Monday, September 12, 2011

Sheriff's Budget Discussion - A Fine Example Of Open Government

I continue to slog through all of the budget numbers, and along with that, I have limited time to post on the blog.  Time constraints aside, I did not want my comment on the best budget hearing I've attended so far to go unmade.  So, here it is.

Last week I attended the public safety committee hearing on the Sheriff's budget.  There was a very good exchange of ideas and concerns aired, primarily between Sheriff John Layton, committee Chairman Ben Hunter, and Council President Ryan Vaughn - although others contributed as well.

Now there is no way I am privy to what gets discussed and wheeled and dealed behind closed doors.  This, though, was some of that but out in full public view - and it was reassuring as to the caliber of discussions that should be taking place as this difficult budget moves forward.

Sheriff Layton expressed his concerns that his department is falling further and further behind with, as he put it, unfunded mandates.  His tally was about $21 m to catch up; a number that included $1.5 m to fully fund the required pension payment.

Councillor Vaughn promised that the pension payment funding would get included into the budget before final passage by the Council.

The remaining exchanges involved ideas on how to trim back the deficit for the Sheriff and where additional funds might be found.  I should point out that all were not in agreement on the actual figure assigned to the Sheriff's deficit.  But, the discussion was civil, respectful, thoughtful, and rigorous.  All sides were listening and responding not to any politics, but to what was actually said.

It was a good night.  Real problems were outlined.  Real solutions were thrown onto the table.  The people's business was conducted in the open air for all to see.  And, that business was conducted in an elevated manner befitting our community.

I'm not trying to be patronizing here, but --  good job Sheriff Layton, Councillor Hunter, and Councillor Vaughn.  It was a fine demonstration to this citizen, that the people's business can be done well and in full view of the public.


Anonymous said...

Pat, would you know if the Sheriff Layton's salary has been reduce by the new law from last year? Since Frank Anderson was making somewhere close to a million dollars every four years, just thinking about the where Layton's figures are coming from.

Had Enough Indy? said...

As I understood things, the state law changed just in time for Layton's term, so he doesn't get the toasty salary that Anderson got. I do not happen to know his salary, though.

Anonymous said...

That is what concerns me, If he would looking for some way to undermind the law. If he has special projects in the budget, alot of things get overlooked when they review these things.

Had Enough Indy? said...

His salary is a matter of public record. And, it is a tax matter. Should any official be taking money beyond their salary, it would be a crime.

I haven't seen any reason to think Layton would stoop to doing what you suggest.

Jon E. Easter said...

It's my understanding that the Sheriff's salary is frozen to that of the county prosecutor.

Jon E. Easter said...

IC 36-2-13-2.8
(6) In a county having a population of more than two hundred thousand (200,000), the county must pay the sheriff an annual salary that is equal to at least one hundred percent (100%) of the annual minimum salary that would be paid by the state to a full-time prosecuting attorney in the county.

Anonymous said...

How much is saved by immediately refusing to enforce drug prohibition? (Answer: None. It's a huge profit-maker for the cops.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, the law was changed to cap the Sheriff salary to the county prosecutors with a grandfather clause for current Sheriffs.

In the fine print,the Sheriff pension contributions were bumped up and didn't address the back door compensation from unspent jail commissary funds which reverts to the Sheriffs compensation.

The State Board of Accounts needs to follow up on the statewide audit of Sheriff salaries to seek unintended consequences like unreasonable increases in prosecutors compensation and other tricks to curb the cap.

Indy Student said...

Anon 10:52, MC Sheriff's Department doesn't actively enforce laws, so they don't make anything out of drug prosecution. In Marion County, the sheriff runs the jails, secures the City-County Building, handles and enforces the sex offender registry, and a handful of other duties relating to registries as well.

If we want to take a look at money savings within the Sheriff's Department, we need to take a hard look at the take-home car program. With the merger in 2007 and now that IMPD is under control of the Mayor's office, less deputies are performing duties with unpredictable hours. We should examine the program, determine which jobs are assisted with take-home cars, and look to eliminating the programs for others.

Personally, I wouldn't mind a complete merger between IMPD and the Sheriff's department, but that'd require state intervention and isn't likely to happen...well, at all.

Jon said...

Why does the Sheriff's department need police cruisers? They serve warrants not manage traffic so having a Dodge Charger doesn't seem like the best use of taxpayer's dollars.

Anonymous said...

Complete merger would be hard to do for many reasons. It will come out down the road that Layton is wasting ALOT of money. A fast example, over $40,000.00 spent on just patches in a recent patch exchange for all of his deputies.

Another example, is the bike patrol. THe bike patrol is nothing but PR at the Farmers Market and other things around the City Market. They did not replace any deputies with this group, in fact they took deputies from staff strapped parts of the department, and spent $1,500.00 per bike in the process.

The song goes on and on, too bad no one really cares.