Commissioners turn down Sheriff's grant funding request

YERINGTON - Lyon County commissioners on Thursday turned down a request for four new positions in the sheriff's department.

Sheriff Sid Smith asked the board to approve a federal grant to allow the creation of clerical positions for the Narcotics Unit and field/administration services commander and two evidence technicians.

The four positions would cost the county $35,000 for one year and could be extended for up to three years. After three years the county would assume 100 percent of the employee costs.

"You would get four employees for the price of one for three years," Smith told the board.

Commissioners, currently in contract negotiations with the sheriff's employees union, were leery of allocating funding outside of the budget process.

"We have no contract with the Sheriff's Office and have no idea what the actual cost will be to the county," commissioner David Fulstone said. "It is tough for me to add the liability of spending money I don't know we have.

I know there is a need there, but my most important job is fiscal responsibility to the county."

Other board members asked why the request was not made in May during the budget process.

Commissioner Bob Milz said, "This circumvents the budget process. It is not fair to the other departments. I can not go for this."

Smith said the application was only recently received. He said the new positions would reduce the amount of time sworn personnel currently spend doing administrative duties and evidence inventory and control, allowing more time to be spent working cases and handling calls.

In February 1999 the commissioners approved a request from Smith for 10 additional grant funded positions, adding to the nine employees already employed under similar programs. The grants end after three years.

Smith said the grant employees are being tracked and if a shortage of funds is fully proven and justified, the positions may be eliminated.

"If the money is not there next year, the positions will not be there, but you must show the need to drop them. The positions cannot just be eliminated," Smith said.

Fulstone noted "This puts us in the precarious position of appearing to lay off people in the Sheriff's Department when we know there is a need."


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