Local news

Sheriff argues for supplies

List includes Tasers, software systems

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich gave county commissioners a $372,631 list of equipment and software Tuesday that he’d like to buy with county reserves.

Commissioners took no action, but agreed to discuss the request further.

Most of the expense would be covered by $337,000 Knezovich said he saved last year. He said commissioners agreed he could have the money, but the two who approved this year’s budget – Mark Richard and Todd Mielke – had different recollections.

“You said, ‘As long as the money is there and it pencils out, you’ve got it,’ ” Knezovich said.

Richard said he couldn’t remember such a commitment, and called for Knezovich to produce a record of that conversation.

“I’m a man of my word,” Richard said. “I will follow my word.”

Still, he pleaded with Knezovich to “do some soul searching” and reduce his list to officer-safety essentials to “help keep us afloat for the next two or three years” until the economy recovers.

Mielke said he “could probably get to the point of looking at” the top priorities on the sheriff’s list.

Tuesday’s exchange echoed one in October. On both occasions, Knezovich argued that he is entitled to keep the portion of last year’s budget that he didn’t spend.

He said he “saved” the money so it could be put to better use on capital expenditures in this year’s budget.

Other departments also saved money and they weren’t allowed to keep it, commissioners responded in October and Tuesday.

Unspent money from all departments was rolled into the county’s general fund reserves, which commissioners try to keep at 10 percent of the budget. Then, in December, commissioners agreed to supplement several criminal justice programs by drawing reserves down to an estimated 8.8 percent.

The sheriff’s office received $726,724 of that $1.5 million allocation, to prevent the layoff of eight deputies.

The capital expenditures Knezovich proposed Tuesday include $140,000 for two software systems, $90,200 for 88 Tasers and stun-gun supplies, $37,000 for “marketing and public education” and $24,000 for 60 tire-flattening spike sticks.

Also: $21,116 for bullet-proof vests, $18,898 for in-car traffic-ticket printers, $16,907 for beanbag shotguns and ammunition, $12,960 for wireless Internet-access cards, $6,000 for dog cages and $5,550 for rifle-mounted lights.

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