IBJNews

Sheriff's department concerned about budget crunch

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Officials from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department say they are concerned that a $10 million gap in this year’s budget will hurt their ability to pay critical bills, such as hospital care for inmates and jail operations, over the next four months.

As the City-County Council begins hammering out the 2012 budget, discussions between Sheriff John Layton’s office and Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration are intensifying over how to address the department’s budgetary needs. The parties met on Monday to talk about the funding gap.

Republican leaders of the City-County Council insist the department, which receives 43 percent of the county’s funding, has room to find savings in its roughly $100 million budget. But officials from the sheriff’s department say they don’t know how they can cut any more without affecting basic services.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about jail beds and jail medical,” said Kevin Murray, an attorney for Layton, a Democrat who was elected last year. “The only way to do that is to cut the number of people who are incarcerated. There’s no question the situation is awful.”

The department’s primary duty is running the jail, but deputies also provide security at the City-County Building and serve arrest warrants.

There’s been tension over the scope of the office–and how much funding and manpower it needs–since Ballard in 2008 launched a restructuring that made the public safety director, rather than the sheriff, the top law enforcement officer.

The budget for the sheriff's department increased about 13 percent, to $105 million, last year. That’s when overdue payments to Wishard Memorial Hospital and Corrections Corporation of America, the private contractor that runs one of the county jails, came due.

To cover its costs this year, the department requested $113 million, an uptick driven by the increase in costs for inmate medical care at Wishard and a need for more jail beds at the jail run by Corrections Corporation of America.

Ballard’s administration and the council instead approved $103 million.

On top of that, the department had to foot new cost burdens, such as higher worker's compensation insurance expenses and contract-mandated salary increases.

Ben Hunter, a council Republican who leads the criminal justice committee, said the sheriff’s department will have to cut spending in other areas to close the $10 million gap.

Hunter, who leads Butler University’s police department, sees plenty of opportunities for both the sheriff and IMPD to operate more efficiently by combining functions such as training, fleet purchasing and human resources. He also questioned whether it was necessary for the sheriff’s department to purchase about 30 Dodge Chargers this year.

“We’re going to have to find efficiencies,” Hunter said. “That is what tax caps force you to do.”

Hunter said it’s realistic to winnow the $10 million gap to $2 million or $3 million and negotiate with vendors for flexibility on payments. Both Hunter and Chris Cotterill, Ballard’s chief of staff, said the city will not borrow money or raise taxes to make up the difference.

Sheriff’s officials say they have scoured for ways to find savings. For example, the department saved about $2.2 million by cutting 12 deputies from the main jail and changing the shift structure to reduce overtime costs, said Lt. Col. Louis Dezelan, who leads the department’s administration division.

The department opted for Dodge Chargers, he said, because they cost an average of $1,000 less than new Crown Victorias and get better gas mileage. The department also has purchased 17 used Crown Victorias from the Speedway Police Department—which produced a savings of about $265,000 compared with purchasing new vehicles.

The office also looked at savings in such areas as office supplies as fuel.

The biggest challenge, Dezlan said, is the cost associated with sending inmates to Wishard. Typically, the sheriff’s office gets stuck with the bill after IMPD officers send them there upon arrest.

In about 90 percent of cases, those arrestees are not admitted because they don’t need overnight care. Dezlan said a good number could be treated in-house, but deputies don’t get to decide that.

“A lot of it is totally out of our control,” Dezlan said.

The department is working with the city’s efficiency experts to address that problem.

Meanwhile, Cotterill said the city will look at a slew of options to find a way to help the department this year.

 “We’ll have an honest and frank dialogue about ideas for savings,” Cotterill said, “and work through it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

  • layton
    No wonder he wanted Kennedy as Mayor!!!

    What was the benefit of Merging Sheriff and IPD??

  • crazy
    This article does not even begin to scratch the surface of the problems within the Sheriff's office. As a Deputy all I can say is that the problems are multifaceted, start with Layton and his administration, and run very, very deep. There are an amazing number of examples of cronism, mismanagement, abuses, lies, misinformation, possible corruption, employee problems being brushed under the rug, etc. Someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, somebody will blow the whistle on this place. When that happens the community will finally begin to see how poorly thier tax dollars are being spent.
  • Not Needed
    The sheriffs department runs the jail and serves warrants does that require a Charger?
  • Why Chargers
    Why does the Sheriffs department need Chargers, they are responsible for traffic enforcement.
  • Jail
    hi

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT