WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — Budget talks are in full swing in Winnebago County.
Right now, part of the budget calls for a $2.5 million increase to the sheriff’s budget.
“Some people are not comfortable with that kind of increase they would like to not see it at that level — at a lower level,” Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney says.
But, board member Steve Schultz, who would not go on camera, says he doesn’t want to see the sheriff get that extra money at all.
On top of that, he says would like to cut nearly $300,000 from the sheriff administration budget.
Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana says if the county approves Schultz’s idea, he would need to lay off 34 patrol deputies.
“We would take out the whole patrol division and probably the detective bureau and have a minor amount of rolling back detectives and a minor amount of patrol people,” Caruana says. “We would devastate this department and it would not be good for public safety.”
There is an official plan on the table between the county and the sheriff’s department. The sheriff agreed to not replace a deputy who already left, move four patrol deputies to the jail and cut down on over time.
“That would save a half a million and through overtime and tracking the overtime weekly, monthly, quarterly to try to not go over that other half a million and try to cut it down to a million,” Caruana says.
With Schultz’s proposal floating around to cut more from Caruana’s budget, the sheriff says instead of moving the four deputies to the jail, he’d have to lay them off.
“These folks have families, they have careers and I respect that,” Caruana says. “So, I want them to start thinking about what is my contingency plan if this becomes a reality, which it could very easily become a reality because they’re asking me to cut more.”
Schultz’s proposal just an idea at this point. The county has until September 27 to come up with a final budget plan.
We also tried to talk to Public Safety Chairman Dave Fiduccia about Schultz’s proposal. He also declined to comment on camera, but says the county needs to think about being fiscally responsible.