Amid grumbling, county OKs more OT pay for sheriff’s office
Sides trade disagreements about level of funding, staff and budget management.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court and county sheriff ’s office butted heads again last week, with each suggesting the other isn’t properly handling its budget responsibilities. A week after asking for and receiving $375,000 to fund additional overtime for jailers, sheriff ’s office Chief Deputy Tim Ryle came to court again, requesting $140,000 in overtime pay for the law enforcement side of his building.
Commissioners agreed to provide an additional $60,000 for sheriff ’s deputy overtime to carry the office through the end of this fiscal year, which ends in September.
“We are in need of additional funding,” Ryle told commissioners. “We looked at the trend, over the first quarter (of the year) and even the second quarter somewhat. That’s where we came up with the $140,000 figure.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey and budget officer Ashlie Koenig said that when crafting the county’s budget for fiscal year 2017, commissioners allocated $311,000 for overtime pay in the sheriff ’s office. To date, $267,694 has been spent.
Koenig later said the overtime figure can fluctuate a lot from one pay period to another.
“We are a 24/7 business,” he said. “It is a fact of life.”
Covey questioned the increase in the sheriff ’s office’s budget for overtime pay. “I was just curious, how could we be so far off at this point,” she said.
The sheriff ’s office spent a total of $47,000 on overtime pay during August and September 2016, Covey said, plus part of July 2016.
The $60,000 extra she proposed “should be more than enough to support our overtime for the next two months,” she said.
“We all live on a budget,” Covey said. “It’s about funding it correctly and then managing it correctly.”
Commissioners approved the extra funding in a 3-0 vote, with commissioners Terry Cook of Round Rock and Cynthia Long of Cedar Park absent.
Covey noted that with just the $60,000 infusion — and not the $140,000 Ryle requested — the sheriff ’s office will still be exceeding what commissioners had approved last year for law enforcement overtime.
Ryle replied: “So it’s obviously not budgeted correctly in the first place.”
Koenig later took issue with his statement, saying her budget recommendations to the court are based on historical trends in any given department.
“If it’s not enough, we’ll have to come back and fix it,” County Judge Dan Gattis said. “As long as we’ve got a handle on it.”
Gattis suggested there might have been some difficulties as the sheriff ’s office transitioned from former Sheriff James Wilson’s tenure to a new administration under Sheriff Robert Chody, who was elected last year following Wilson’s retirement.
While acknowledging he was not part of last year’s budgeting process, Ryle said he can find “no anomalies” between work sheriff ’s deputies have done under the two leaders.
As it was with overtime funding for jailers — which commissioners addressed July 18 with their $375,000 cash infusion — Ryle maintains the law enforcement side of operations is understaffed.
“When you ask for additional people to address the growth, and you don’t get additional people, that’s a (budget) cut,” he said.