Rising costs and decreasing funding are hurting the Harvey County Sheriff's Department, and could lead to cutting the department's senior patrol program in 2014.
During his budget presentation at Monday's Harvey County Commission meeting, Sheriff T. Walton reported he just couldn't keep his budget for 2014 flat without finding a place to make cuts.
"It's a good program," he said of senior patrol. "I know people appreciate it ... but I think unfortunately, we're going to have to cut it."
The senior patrol program costs an estimated $12,000 to operate and includes about 25 volunteers who perform services for the community, such as checking on people's homes while they're on vacation.
Walton said due to funding uncertainty at the state level, this year his department was asked to submit a budget with a five percent cut from the previous year's budget. However, Walton said expenses — such as utilities, fuel and health insurance for employees — continue to rise, and something had to go.
"Are people willing to increase their taxes to provide the service?" he asked. "You can't provide more for less."
Commissioner Ron Krehbiel said he understood the difficulty Walton's department was facing.
"I don't like to see that, but I understand where you're coming from," he said of the proposed cut.
Commissioner Chip Westfall suggested having senior patrol look into conducting fund-raisers to raise money to self-fund the program.
Walton said his regular patrol staff will not be able to absorb the duties of senior patrol volunteers.
"We don't have enough time for deputies to be doing that," he said.
Walton reported he also is concerned about delaying building maintenance in order to save money, and suggested the county perhaps pick up some of the costs.
"I just don't have enough money to carry all those repairs in my budget," he said. "... These are things we can keep putting off, and we will, until the money becomes available."