KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A packed house filled the room for the budget hearing for the sheriff’s office Thursday afternoon. Many of the public commenters thought cuts to the sheriff’s department would lead to bigger problems.
Sheriff Frank Skrah and his team met before Thursday’s budget hearing crunching numbers and seeing exactly what they need to make ends meet.
“For this coming, 14-15 budget starting in July, I want the same amount of money and I will make that work. That’s 3 years without asking taxpayers for one additional dime,” said Sheriff Skrah.
The budget committee has proposed cuts to the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Skrah said under the proposed budget, 32 positions would have to be cut – 16 in his jail and 16 on patrols.
Skrah said he only has ten deputies and the cuts would result in one, eight hour patrol a day with the rest of the day unpatrolled. Two days would have no patrols at all.
“I can’t do that, I took an oath of office, to do the right thing here. They’re tying my hands,” said Sheriff Skrah.
As the hearing began, the public showed support for the sheriff. Commissioner Dennis Linthicum said costs are rising as a whole, and fewer funds are coming in.
“Everybody will need to bear the burden of lowering the cost of government. The easiest way for us to engineer that is through a policy for long term sustainability,” Commissioner Linthicum.
The budget committee has said cuts will be made across the board, and personnel will be hit hard.
“80 percent of our monies goes for personnel costs, so it’s a big, big, portion of our county budget,” said Commissioner Linthicum.
Sheriff Skrah worries he has no personnel left to cut.
“It’s not a skeleton crew, it’s a graveyard for crying out loud. We’ve gone beyond skeleton crew here,” said Sheriff Skrah.
The budget for Klamath County and its department, will be finalized in the coming weeks.