Amid grum­bling, county OKs more OT pay for sher­iff’s of­fice

Sides trade dis­agree­ments about level of fund­ing, staff and bud­get man­age­ment.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Brad Stutz­man Round Rock Leader con­tribut­ing writer

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.

Ryle

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