By Nathan Baker
County department heads implored the Carter County Budget Committee Monday to allow them to make precise surgical cuts to their yearly expenses, rather than being subjected to what they viewed as the indiscriminate slashing approved last week by the committee.
Committee members, however, made no move to reconsider or discuss the recommendations made at the last meeting.
Facing a $1.7 million deficit heading into the 2013-14 fiscal year, the committee voted Thursday to dial back every office’s operating budget to match last year’s funding, eliminated the “other charges” line item from every department and cut all travel expenses in half.
The reductions reduced the looming deficit by $280,000, but most of the leaders of county departments spoke against the method of savings during Monday’s committee meeting.
“To cut us in half would cause us to lose certain certificates that we hold for training,” Sheriff Chris Mathes said, listing a gamut of courses, including drug investigation, sex abuse, Taser use, jail protocols and firearms training.
To save money on travel, the sheriff’s department sends one officer to be trained in the instruction of each law enforcement technique.
That staff member can then return to Carter County and teach his fellow officer the skills he learned.
“We’re running right now at the very minimum of travel expenses,” Mathes said. “These cuts would be devastating.”
He said he was able to find savings of approximately $110,000, as requested by the committee at a previous meeting, but those cuts were replaced by the measures approved last week.