The Carson City Sheriff’s Office is looking at a normal budget cycle, with no big-ticket items allocated for the 2017 fiscal year.
The 2017 budget stands at $18,421,101, more than $400,000 more than what was budgeted for fiscal year 2016. That breaks down into each division within the Sheriff’s Office: the Sheriff’s Chartered Division, Administration, Operations, Investigation, Communications, Detention and Administrative Services.
Each of these divisions is a separate program within the city in addition to three grant funded programs through the department.
The budget has been on the rise for several years with $16,271,819 in 2014; $16,867,401 in 2015; and $17,958,560 in 2016.
The cost per capita to operate for fiscal year was estimated at $329.85, with a lower city population increasing the cost, though the numbers are comparable to those of fiscal year 2015 at $309.27.
Sheriff Ken Furlong said with most of the divisions, the budget remained fairly consistent, however there are several budget increases for the coming fiscal year. One significant increase in the budget is with the investigations division, which has been steadily growing for several years, however has stayed consistent around $2.3 million, Furlong said. The investigation division is responsible primarily for major crimes, drugs and gang enforcement within Carson City.
The second increase is from programmed contract agreements that include obligations, new positions and cost of doing business. Because of the School Resource Officer program was funded mid-cycle with help from the school district, the department brought in three new positions and adjusted the budget to include those positions. Increased costs from outside contracts, including the Washoe Crime Lab, also were factored into the budget for the coming fiscal year.
The department is expected to see a shortfall in their overtime budget, which could be nearly $200,000. Furlong said overtime is always a big challenge for the department, because of minimum manning requirements. Minimum manning is 44 percent of overtime needs, used mostly for special operations, investigation follow up, critical call outs, and training. In 2015, the overtime budget was 78 percent spent by the time 66 percent of the year was complete.
“For the most part our financial offices have attempted to adjust the budget to fit most of our needs,” said Furlong. “We recognize the financial challenges of the city but we do not want to ask the Board of Supervisors for more money right now, considering the newly funded positions for our School Resource Officers.”
One program Furlong does wish to reinstate in the future is the traffic management unit that was defunded in 2010. Currently, Carson City is unique and these tasks are combined with the patrol unit’s duties, instead of a separate unit that just deals with traffic enforcement and accidents. Having a separate traffic unit would clear up officers for calls for service, as well as hopefully work to reduce the number of traffic accidents in Carson.
In 2015, deputies responded to 221 accidents and issued more than 5,000 traffic citations. While the severity of accidents is decreasing, the volume of accidents has been increasing over the last few years, with a 30 percent increase since 2014, said Furlong.
“What this is telling me is that enforcement is covering speed around town which is lowering injuries but the volume of accidents is continuing to climb because we are seeing a dramatic increase,” Furlong said.
Furlong said the office is constantly receiving complaints from the community on traffic matters, however, because the deputies’ duties include both traffic and normal patrol calls for service, it’s difficult for them to be able to respond to those complaints as the traffic enforcement is secondary to service calls.
At the moment, the department is attempting to combat the lack of traffic management deputies with its grant funded Joining Forces events. The Office of Traffic Safety funds Joining Forces throughout the state, which provides funding to pay deputies overtime to focus on certain traffic issues including speed, distracted driving and pedestrian safety.
To reinstate the traffic management unit, the department would need an additional $400,000 in the budget.
“Although it is a top priority, it is difficult to justify asking for the money,” Furlong said. “We aren’t asking to fund the traffic management team this year though we all agree this is an issue. It is impossible to me to come back to the board for more positions because we keep taking larger chunks of general fund budget and it takes away from the other city functions.”
While they’re not asking for the budget for the traffic unit for this year, Furlong said they are going to monitor the budget with the ups and downs of the 2017 money.
“We are constantly watching what’s being spent and what is being given to us,” Furlong said.