Council Asks Sheriff For Cost Cutting Ideas To Make 2013 Budget Add Up

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 21, 2012 Updated Sep 21, 2012 at 5:41 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Allen County Council members say Sheriff Ken Fries needs to make a good faith effort to find cost savings in his department, to close a big gap between what the sheriff wants, and what county government can give him.

There's certainly no meeting of the minds between the sheriff and council, when it comes to the county's 2013 budget.

The sheriff was looking for a $1.2 million increase in his allotment next year.

County council instead said we need you to make do with a $400,000 cut compared to 2012.

County council provided Fries with a list of more than 20 possible cost reduction measures, including converting some jobs from sworn officers to civilians, cutting back on the sheriff's fleet of squad cars, and even talking about whether the criminal justice system locally could function with locking up fewer people in the jail.

The sheriff says most of the suggestions are not practical, and that other proposed changes would cause public safety to take a hit.

County council members feel the sheriff needs to take on an attitude of greater cooperation.

" I don't know if it's a little bit of politics, or if it's a little bit of grandstanding on the fact I want to get the public behind me, but in reality, if I came to you and I said this is how much money you had to spend, and you were trying to spend more than that, and you couldn't do it, we're not the federal government, we can't print money," said Republican County Council Member Darren Vogt.

The sheriff maintains he could save at least $1-million a year, if the legislature would change the law to say local sheriffs don't have to pay for pre-existing medical expenses for inmates.

Thursday, the sheriff is supposed to bring his own ideas for cost cutting to a follow-up meeting with council.

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