Letters to the Editor
I am writing in response to Ms. Varoni’s letter in last week’s Pioneer Tribune. In her letter, Ms. Varoni stated that the sheriff’s department was the only department to overspend their allocated budget. I would like to suggest to Ms. Varoni that she review the county’s 2011 audit as there were several departments that went over their allocations.
Below are listed some items of interest.
Did you know:
• The sheriff’s department is the only county department that operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
• The sheriff’s department coverage is “mandated” by the State of Michigan.
• Schoolcraft County departments, other than the sheriff’s department, budgets are much more predictable.
• According to the 2011 audit, six departments overspent their budget allocation; clerk, treasurer, circuit court, district court, probate court, and jail.
• The sheriff’s department budget is fluid, depending on the number of inmates, trials, crimes committed, and emergency calls.
• In 2011 the sheriff’s department spent $899,710, which is 27.2 percent of the Schoolcraft County budget (per Schoolcraft County 2011 audit available online).
• Compare Schoolcraft County sheriff department’s actual expenditures of 27.2 percent to other counties: o Luce County 27.6 percent of their county general fund budget o Cheboygan County 33.1 percent of their county general fund budget o Mackinac County 34.0 percent of their county general fund budget o Menominee County 34.9 percent of their county general fund budget o Charlevoix County 30.8 percent of their county general fund budget o Dickinson County 25.6 percent of their county general fund budget o Marquette County 26.8 percent of their county general fund budget o Houghton County 27.2 percent of their county general fund budget o Delta County 29.6 percent of their county general fund budget o Alger county audit for 2011 is not yet available online
Please note, of the nine counties listed above, Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department has spent one of the least highest percentages of the general fund dollars.
The city of Manistique 2011 actual expenditures for Public Safety was 38.9 percent of their general fund budget ($822,840 of total budget of $2,115,924).
The Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department has mandated services. The sheriff’s department needs enough money allotted in their budget to cover these services.
Frequently, there is no local police coverage for Schoolcraft County, except for the city of Manistique.
Frequently, in an emergency, the closest police responder has come from St. Ignace, Gladstone or Gaylord.
The Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department, and our sheriff, Grant Harris, works their hardest to provide the best coverage at the least expense for Schoolcraft County and city of Manistique residents without asking for a road patrol millage. The sheriff feels that had the board authorized it, the $25,000 road patrol grant would have allowed for better protection of the residents at a minimal or no cost to Schoolcraft County residents.
Please know the facts and do not listen to self-interest scare tactics and misinformation prior to your vote.
This is my response to the letter written by Mrs. Jan Varoni and published in the Pioneer Tribune on Oct. 4, 2012.
Dear Mrs. Varoni,
Thank you for your sons’ service in law enforcement. From all accounts, they are assets to their departments and the communities they serve. You have every right to be proud of them. The law enforcement profession is one that gives much satisfaction to those who make it their life’s work, as I have.
The office of sheriff is a branch of state government funded by each county. It poses the most cost, most liability exposure, and most risk to the counties. This is because of the complex duties required of the sheriff. For example, each county must operate a jail or a lockup and is responsible for the cost of feeding, housing, medical care, and psychological care of each inmate housed for the county.
The jail operation is not the only responsibility mandated by the state, although most counties would like to think it is. Each sheriff is responsible for a multitude of other duties because of either common law or laws enacted legislatively. Some examples of common law duties include court security, answering calls for service made by the citizens, service of civil process papers, enforcement of court orders, transporting of inmates for the courts, etc. Only the Supreme Court can modify a common law. Legislatively enacted duties include enforcement of all state laws, gun registrations, sex offender registrations, liquor inspections, boat liveries, fingerprinting, concealed pistol board membership, the patrolling of all unincorporated areas of the county, recovery of drowned bodies, etc. You indicate that I am operating a road patrol when the board of commissioners does not authorize one. The commissioners denied the “Secondary Road Patrol” grant, which is funding provided by the state to counties in an attempt to offset the cost of patrolling the roads. Most counties, unless funded by a special millage, do not have the luxury of a nondirected road patrol. That is where deputies go out in patrol cars and ride around searching out violators of the law.
I am not operating a secondary road patrol or a non-directed road patrol! The fact is that it is impossible to go from Cooks to Seney without driving a car on the roadway to get there. We have an everincreasing amount of civil process papers that must be delivered throughout the county. Delivery of these papers requires someone to operate a motor vehicle on the road. If the person sent out to deliver papers is certified to enforce law, why shouldn’t they do that when they come across violators? I will never tell an officer to not enforce the law, ever!
I am sure that your sons would want it that way, too.