FLORENCE, Ariz. – Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has presented the Board of Supervisors a budget update and projected a fully balanced budget, which even shows a revenue surplus.
Sheriff Babeu outlined budget issues of $1.6 million for the total Sheriff’s budget of $47,001,159 and plans to use available PCSO funds for the increased fuel costs, jail overtime and paid administrative leave. Pinal County Manager Fritz Behring, who is appointed by the Board of Supervisors, has agreed the County is responsible to pay the unfunded union contract, employee related expenses/benefits and underestimated retirement contributions. The Board of Supervisors signed a contract with the labor union in the Sheriff’s Office in August of 2011, two months after the Sheriff’s budget was adopted by the board.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, while the County Manager and County Budget Director recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the agreement be funded, Chairman Rios refused to take action on the matter and instead put off any decision. Supervisor Bryan Martyn commended Sheriff Babeu and our office for getting to the bottom of this issue and working so closely with county staff to reach a resolution.
“You’ve clearly demonstrated your ability to understand and manage your budget.” Supervisor Martyn responded following the Sheriff’s presentation. “I’m comfortable with where we’re at right now, with the numbers you’ve presented and the fact you’ve worked with the County Manager.”
|Sheriff Babeu pictured as he presents a budget update to the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.|
This is the fist year the county changed budget procedures for all county departments and elected county offices, where budget costs and funding was transferred for employee related expenses such as FICA, retirement contributions, over time and workers compensation. The estimates were significantly off and funds shorted in the Sheriff’s Office. The county agreed to pay for the shortages in retirement contributions, employee related expenses and over $850,000 for workers compensation that was not properly funded in the Sheriff’s budget.
On January 18th, 2012 the county budget office provided information at the Pinal County Board of Supervisors meeting that our office had a projected $3.2 million budget shortfall. “Our budget is fully balanced and, in fact, we shall have a surplus of monies available. This board signed a contract after my budget was fixed and now they want me to pay for it, even after fuel prices have nearly doubled and I've already assumed those costs. We run a highly disciplined operation, evidenced in improved emergency response times, obtaining national accreditation for our jail, improved training and modern equipment for our staff. This is all done to provide top-shelf law enforcement to Pinal families and that will not be compromised.” Sheriff Babeu stated. “We have no control over the rising fuel costs, which are near $4 a gallon. My Deputies still have to patrol and respond to emergencies in a county larger than three US states. We have prisoners to transport all over the state. Public safety is the core function of government and I’m using other sheriff’s office funds to pay for these fuel costs.”