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Sheriff’s Office requests money from the county to hire a new deputy

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The Athens County Sheriff’s office is looking for an increase in their annual budget in order to hire one more deputy. Sheriff Pat Kelly asked earlier this week for an increase of the approved budget from January.

Approved by the Athens County Commissioners at the beginning of the year, the office’s approved budget was $1.66 million.

“We get the budget done at the start of the year, just so we know how much money the county has available,” Athens County Commissioner Charles Adkins said. “Sheriff Kelly came back before I took office on Jan. 2 of this year and asked for an increase.”

The sheriff had proposed the original budget before the year started.

Currently, the sheriff’s office employs 12 law enforcement agents who are deputies. The budget adjustment Kelly is seeking will cover an additional deputy, a cost of $62,000. According to the current budget, there is about $1 million available for salaries of law enforcement officers of the department.

“The salaries for deputies and the office workers of the department are determined by union standards and agreements,” Alan Ferguson, Financial Reporting Administrator of the Athens County Auditor’s office, said.

Ferguson explained the budget, going on to say the sheriff’s salary of $69,000 is fixed by the state and has not changed in the last year.

According to the new budget, however, the money appropriated to the salaries of theofficers has increased by around $60,000. Ferguson could not say why though. He did explain that the Budget Commission determines the county’s budget at the beginning of the year. Once it has been set, the county commissioners “says how big of slices people get.”

The sheriff is asking for around $62,000 to cover the salary and benefits of the new deputy. However, Adkins said budgets are tight all around, and for now, it is unclear where the money would be coming from.

“We will have to go back and look to see which offices’ budgets could be cut. However, we may not know until after all the taxes are in and examined. That may not be until June or July of this year,” Adkins said.

Adkins did not believe any of the other budgets could be reduced for now.

“If any other office thinks that they have been awarded too much and decide to kick some back to the sheriff’s cause, that is one way to do it so far,” Adkins said.

He said the county has also been asking the villages without a current marshal to help pitch in for the new deputy. “[The commissioners] don’t believe any village should be given any special attention. If they all help out, we may be able to get another deputy out to the department sooner rather than later.”

Chief Deputy Dave Owen of the Athens County Auditor’s office said the sheriff’s department receives funding from three primary sources.

“They [the sheriff’s office] get money from the county general fund, which is supported from county taxes. There is also a DARE grant for their drug program, and they also get money from the seizure of property.”

This budget request would be mainly put toward the general fund.

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