Dear Editor: It was quite an interesting night at the Board of Commissioners meeting. First, I agree with the BOC’s decision to go with the roll back rate of 10.9. This impacts me as both a homeowner and business owner and I still agree as I don’t see much choice. However, I don’t agree with the process.
The bulk of the budget is in law enforcement, and Sheriff Brown’s numbers were taken at face value. I heard about how many patrolling deputies would be lost and the reduction in force at the jail. What I did not hear was how much staff he was cutting. I have heard from many sources that he has increased his staff since becoming sheriff and stockpiled vehicles that were turned in by other departments for surplus (intended to be sold). Look at the website — you have to click on his image in order to enter. The efficient use of deputies was not demonstrated. He was questioned during the work sessions leading up to this, but I don’t think sufficiently.
To be specific: the jail accounts for over 20 percent of our county budget. Is this normal compared to other counties? Further, the thought of spending $9 million on people that break the law is crazy. We have to pay $40 per day to house and feed those that have attacked civilization. If you look at the jail conditions and compare them to where most of these people were living, their quality of life has IMPROVED. They now have central heat and air, three squares, a bed, hot water, etc. I have personally heard on multiple occasions relatives of prisoners say that the inmate is glad to be in jail because now they don’t have to worry about paying their rent or finding a job in this economy. Some have intentionally broken the law to avoid the burdens of being an American.
Meanwhile, the county and city say they don’t have the money to collect roadside trash (distributed by other law breakers), mow grass, etc. Reality check: there’s 700 workers lapping it up in the county jail that should be in chain gangs doing these tasks. We’re already paying their living expenses — they need to work hard for it. They don’t need creature comforts and life should not be easy for them. The food should be awful, water cold, temperature uncomfortable, bed unsleepable. Jail should be a punishment to the extent that they fear being put away. I bet that Sheriff in Arizona doesn’t spend $40/day on his inmates.
There was a man that spoke at the end, rather incoherently, but he did have a point. The deputies aren’t catching the criminals anywhere near expectations. At least a dozen deputies were present, and all were at least 30 pounds overweight and half were at least 50 pounds overweight. That’s because they can be found gathering in groups at local eating establishments throughout the day. You don’t see that in the Covington Police Department. If four deputies meet at one restaurant at the same time, who’s patrolling the roads? Further, they’re eating at places that aren’t even on county patrolled roads — they’re in the city. Why wasn’t this questioned? How are they to catch criminals when they’re obese? And many studies prove this leads to increased health insurance costs, lost productivity, etc. And what about their always being on their personal cell phone while patrolling?
Again, I agree with the 10.9 rollback, but the money is not being spent wisely by the Sheriff’s department. I’m willing to make the sacrifice if I know there is a return, and others aren’t unreasonably benefitting from it. And as a taxpayer, I demand that there is an amendment to this vote that we return to the 9.73 millage rate when times get better.
I would also like to point out some of the standpoints by the commissioners. Ewing stuck to his principles on the matter, and I applaud him for that though I don’t agree with him. Morgan and Schultz both spoke poignantly and again stood strong. I’m sure they’ll take a lot of heat for it. Simmons said he wouldn’t speak as long as everyone else, then spoke longer than the rest combined. Then there was Fleming, who took the political road, somehow making this local issue into a federal deficit issue. The county is not incurring debt, so our children will not be paying for this…we are. He knew the rate needed to go up, but cowered behind the fact that there were already 3 votes in favor of the rollback. Henderson waffled, first saying he’d never raise taxes during work sessions, then voted in favor of it