Com­mis­sion­ers grant sher­iff more bud­get au­ton­omy

Mea­sure in­tended to re­duce red tape

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By TA­MARA WARD [email protected]­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

Calvert’s Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers granted Sher­iff Mike Evans’ (R) re­quest for bud­get au­ton­omy Tues­day, giv­ing the sher­iff’s of­fice the au­thor­ity to trans­fer funds up to $150,000, the thresh­old for a pub­lic hear­ing, with­out the board’s con­sent.

“You’re not look­ing for any change in the bud­get build process. You’re sim­ply look­ing for more flex­i­bil­ity [in] ex­e­cut­ing dol­lars with less red tape,” Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) said, seek­ing un­der­stand­ing of the re­quest, to which Evans said “yes.”

The sher­iff will con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in the county’s an­nual bud­get process by sub­mit­ting a pri­or­i­tized bud­get to in­clude salaries and op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal out­lay, but once the sher­iff’s bud­get is re­ceived, reviewed and ap­proved by the com­mis­sion­ers, he will have the abil­ity to trans­fer funds and make ex­pen­di­tures au­tonomously.

Slaugh­en­houpt said the re­quest is sim­i­lar to the ar­range­ment in place with the Calvert County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, which al­lows the board to trans­fer money among cer­tain cat­e­gories of funds.

“With the board of ed­u­ca­tion, they have a limit of $25,000 that they can trans­fer be­tween their cat­e­gories. Any­thing over $25,000 comes to the board for your ac­tion,” County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Terry Shan­non said.

“We don’t want to trans­fer funds, let’s say, from salaries into cap­i­tal out­lay or vice versa, but if we are in our re­stricted bud­get and we need to, I don’t know, purchase some­thing ex­pen­sive that wasn’t bud­geted for or un­fore­seen … we’d like the abil­ity to do that,” said As­sis­tant Sher­iff Lt. Col. Dave McDow­ell, who ini­tially re­quested the trans­fer via a memo.

Com­mis­sioner Steve Weems (R) was on board, but re­quested that it be within the de­fined guide­lines and sought Shan­non’s thoughts on the pro­posed process.

Shan­non said there are cer- tain line items in a bud­get that are re­stricted, such as gaso­line for ve­hi­cles, and things that are un­re­stricted line items.

“As long as they stay in within that group­ing of un­re­stricted line items, there’s no is­sue,” Shan­non said. “The re­stricted line items are usu­ally there for in our gen­eral bud­get like util­i­ties — things that you want to make sure you’re go­ing to have that ex­pense re­gard­less. You want to make sure that money is there for that pur­pose.”

“That’s well un­der­stood and I be­lieve we’ve demon­strated that re­spon­si­bil­ity in our [build­ing] over the years,” McDow­ell said. “We know we need fuel for our cars and that there are cer­tain things that can’t be touched and that’s not our in­ten­tion at all.”

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Tom Hejl (R) was in fa­vor of the ini­tia­tive and re­called be­ing as­sis­tant sher­iff and hav­ing to go through a lot of red tape to make pur­chases.

“It ham­pered the process,” Hejl said, not­ing that a memo had to be drafted be­fore getting per­mis­sion. “You know what you need. You’re the peo­ple in the po­si­tion to know what you need.”

“I’m go­ing to say please be care­ful,” said Com­mis­sioner Pat Nut­ter (R), who is also a re­tired sher­iff’s deputy, ex­press­ing a need for checks and bal­ances and the de­sire to not leave the in­com­ing board and county ad­min­is­tra­tors and fi­nance staff with new prob­lems.

The mo­tion to grant the au­thor­ity was unan­i­mously ap­proved. Slaugh­en­houpt said the re­quest is not a “slap” against the Depart­ment of Fi­nance and Bud­get staff and that if it be­comes a prob­lem with a fu­ture sher­iff, that au­ton­omy can be un­done.

STAFF PHOTO BY TA­MARA WARD

As­sis­tant Sher­iff Lt. Col. Dave McDow­ell, left, and Calvert County Sher­iff Mike Evans (R) re­quest up to $150,000 in trans­fer au­thor­ity from the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers on Tues­day.

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