ITHACA, N.Y. — Lawmakers have delayed a decision to give the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office an additional $360,000 to meet an unexpected budget deficit.
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The county budgeted $526,233 to spend on the sheriff’s office in 2015. But as the Ithaca Voice reported yesterday, Tompkins County is now projected to spend more than $800,000 on the sheriff’s office this year — meaning lawmakers are being asked to dip into a public contingency fund to make up the gap.
Last night, the Tompkins County Legislature’s public safety committee met to discuss the taxpayers’ new bill, one officials attribute to surprise cost overruns at the Tompkins County Jail and with road patrol.
The committee of the legislature decided to delay “further discussion and action” until its meeting in September, according to a news release from Marcia Lynch, county spokesperson.
Legislator Martha Robertson was one of the lawmakers who said more information would be necessary before approving an “allocation of this magnitude, especially in the area of overtime expense,” according to the news release.
Meanwhile, Legislator Jim Dennis urged the importance of making a decision sooner rather than later. He also said that the cost of boarding out inmates is typically underestimated, according to the news release.
County Administrator Joe Mareane said yesterday that the Hornbrook Road incident and a special detail on South Hill are likely contributing to the new expenses.
“The budget has proved to be too optimistic,” says Mareane. “I think there are some extraordinary circumstances that have affected the sheriff’s office this year; I don’t think this is the new normal.”
According to the county’s news release, Undersheriff Brian Robison also spoke at last night’s meeting. “Robison told the committee overtime is controlled by factors such as required minimum staffing. He said the adjustment, as he sees it, is an attempt to reconcile budgeted numbers to where they are supposed to be,” the news release said.
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