Cuts to Public Safety Not Necessary
On July 10, 2017, in an open meeting about the 2018 budget instructions, Commissioner Neatherlin suggested that Sheriff Salisbury is able to choose where he makes budget cuts and that there is no need to cut deputies’ positions. What Commissioner Neatherlin did not mention is that:
- The commission only provided the MCSO with 10 working days at the beginning of July in which to make the budget cuts.However, Frank Pinter, the Director of Support Services, warned the commission on February 22, 2017, that “we may need access to $1.5M to $2M” in order to address the budget shortfall. (http://www.co.mason.wa.us/commissioners/briefing_minutes/2017/02202017.pdf, p. 2).Had the commission taken action in February of 2017 there would have been far more options available to deal with any shortfall.Furthermore, on April 26, 2017, Frank Pinter again warned the BOCC of potential budget shortfalls (http://www.ifiberonenewsradio.com/news/local_news/mason-confronts-budget-shortfall-staff-cuts-new-fees-vote-on/article_eb7eefa2-2ad6-11e7-8174-639d8a7b4d90.html).In Frank Pinter’s address to the commission and department heads he proposed numerous reasonable solutions which would address the shortfalls and still maintain public safety; none of his proposals involved cuts to public safety.In both instances, the BOCC failed to heed the warnings of their own financial expert and took no action.
- Because the commission failed to take action at the beginning of the year, department heads made decisions with a good faith belief that full funding of their budget was available.When over 50% of the year is passed, only a small amount of cuts can be made to the operations budget because the majority of those costs are fixed (meaning they have already been paid, or are still obligated to be paid, because they are necessary to meet the obligations of the department).Additionally, had the BOCC taken the steps outlined by Director of Support Services Frank Pinter, the budget concerns could have been addressed early without any losses to critically important public safety positions.
It is not too late! The BOCC can still take the steps outlined by their own financial expert, Frank Pinter, to address any budget shortfalls without impacts to public safety. Please take the time to contact your county commissioners and ask them to follow the advice of Mr. Pinter from April of this year. You can contact the county commissioners here: http://www.co.mason.wa.us/commissioners/index.php