It may not be the $5 million he promised he could do without, but Sheriff Duane Piper has managed to make some cuts to his agency’s budget.
Piper addressed county commissioners during a work session Tuesday, asking them to return about $3.7 million of the $5 million they removed from his office’s budget in October at the request of then-sheriff Ted Paxton.
Those cuts included removing all budgeted overtime and out-of-county inmate housing, among other areas, but Piper said the way the money was removed — in bulk — “completely destroyed every line item.”
“The way it was taken out was the line items were left intact, but the lump sum was taken out, so the line items don’t mean anything,” he said. “From day one, we’ve had to shift the line items to cover that money.
“The whole budget was worthless. It wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”
Piper said he’s been working to restore line items, including removing funding for 18 vacant positions.
Piper successfully requested Tuesday that the money saved from that shift, nearly $1.3 million, be directed to the county’s general fund.
“We anticipate a whole lot more savings by the end of the year,” he said. “The goal here is to save money.”
When the county commissioners approved removing $5 million from the sheriff’s budget, it was set aside in reserves just in case the new sheriff wasn’t able to do without it.
Before the commissioners agreed to the budget moves, Commissioner Todd Levent took issue with Piper.
“I don’t think it’s fair that you keep saying they did something to you,” Levent said of Piper’s predecessor. “I never thought you could cut $5 million ... I knew this was going to mess up your budget, I knew this was going to cause some stress.”
Approval of the funding shift was unanimous.