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County Officials Finalize 2015-16 Budget Work

County Officials Finalize 2015-16 Budget Work


By David Howell

Editor


COFFEEVILLE – Working on the last day of the 2015-16 fiscal year last Friday, county officials amended the budget to reflect actual expenditures during the year in accordance with state law. Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn told supervisors the total expenditures for the year was $8.8 million, and year-to-date activity was $8.5 million. She also explained the only budgets that were over were the sheriff’s department and jail budget. 

The budget for the sheriff department’s half-million dollar budget was $66,401 over, with overtime pay for deputies cited as the main factor. The jail budget was $9,000 over, with medical bills for inmates identified as the main culprit.

The overage triggered discussion, both on the cost of law enforcement and crime in the county.

Board President Cayce Washington said he had visited with Sheriff Lance Humphreys to discuss the budget prior to Friday’s meeting in the Coffeeville courthouse.

“I advised the sheriff that he has the support of the board and the county because we don’t want these knot heads running loose out here,” Washington explained. “But he doesn’t have the support to continue to overrun his budget, he has got to manage his personnel better,” Washington added.

“I think they do a good job, they are putting guys in the jail,” Washington continued.

“In my line of work the neighborhood is important,” District Three Supervisor Lee McMinn said. Lee McMinn is also a local realtor and cited drug problems at the Water Valley Boat Landing as an example. “People would not move out there if you gave them a house, it is a drug den, particularly one location, but there are at least two out there,” Lee McMinn explained. “I am talking about drugged up people coming and knocking on a neighbor’s door with a needle hanging out of their arm and they think somebody is chasing them. That happened two weeks ago.

“We got to figure out a way to manage the money, but at the same time we can’t let that happen,” Lee McMinn continued.

Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn also pointed to the busy schedule for the deputies.

“There is a lot that goes on with them serving papers to taking folks to court, going to testify for court. I just don’t know if there is enough of them (deputies),” Amy McMinn explained.

“There is no question that it is tough on him and his deputies, but it is what they signed up for,” Washington added.

The jail budget overage generated less discussion, as Washington noted that Humphreys had done a good job keeping the expenses in check for the county’s new jail. He also noted that some of the inmate medical bills that pushed the budget over were actually several years old and had only recently been submitted for payment. 

“He has a jail full now,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray said. “Crime is rampant now days.” 

Supervisors previously approved an additional $50,00 for the sheriff’s department’s budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year that started on October 1. The money was provided to help curtail the overtime currently paid by the department for deputies following discussion during August budget meetings.

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