sheriff have to make any cuts?
month into new budget year, he still has same
number of employees and has given 2.5% raises
Will the sheriff have to reduce his staff due to budget
cuts in 2006? The answer to that depends on whom you talk
to at the Platte County Administration Building.
Sheriff Dick Anderson has gone very public with his dismay
over the new budget. He has spoken out in open session
of county commission meetings. He has even taken his case
to the Kansas City media, doing a TV interview with Channel
9 on the topic last week.
What can't be disputed is that in order to make expenses
balance with projected revenues, Platte County Commissioners
have tightened the overall county budget this year, making
cuts in salary lines that they say affected around 13
positions at the county. The intent was that some positions
would be eliminated completely, including eight spots
at the sheriff's department, commissioners indicated.
The sheriff claims the budget adjustments run deeper
than that. He has publicly said he'll have to reduce his
staff by 11 positions. But based on payroll information
on record with the county's human resources department
obtained by The Landmark this week, it appears the sheriffs
department would be able to operate at its existing staffing
level throughout 2006.
One month into the new year, the sheriff has yet to make
any reductions in staff and in fact has authorized salary
increases across the board for his department's 121 employees.
Neither fact is an indication the sheriff's department
is feeling the crunch from a tightened 2006 budget, giving
credence to the commissioners' belief there was plenty
of fat in the sheriff's budget in 2005.
"The facts speak for themselves. When I call human
resources and they tell me the sheriff's department has
had no layoffs. . . ," commissioner Jim Plunkett
said this week.
"We're one month into 12, and he still has the same
number of staff members as he had the first day of the
year," Plunkett added.
According to payroll records, the sheriff's department
topped out at 121 employees in 2005. Currently, the department
still has 121 employees on the payroll.
Putting a dollar figure on the situation, the sheriff's
department payroll for the month of January was $327,818.
Multiply that dollar amount by 12 months for the entire
year, and the sheriff's projected payroll for 2006 would
come to $3,933,816, which would still have him coming
in under the $4,072,275 the commission has allotted him
for salaries in 2006.
That's with no layoffs and with the 2.5% salary increase
given across the board to department employees.
Anderson argues that it's important to understand the
$4,072,275 earmarked for sheriff's department salaries
is "not a goal, it's a ceiling.
"When you have a cap, you have to manage from that
number downward. It's a ceiling. If we spend 99.9% of
that money, that's great. If we spend 100.1%, it's a failure,"
the sheriff said.
The sheriff said it's his goal to spend from 98% to 100%
of the money in his salary budget each year. In 2005,
the department spent 97% of its budgeted salaries, he
Much of the confusion over the extent of budget reduction
stems from a disagreement over what can be considered
a "cut" in staffing. In 2005, the sheriff's
department was authorized salary amounts to cover 128
employees. But its staffing topped out at 121. This resulted
in anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 in budgeted salaries
for the department going unused in 2005.
The commissioners noticed the excess funding and made
efforts to cut it back in the tightened 2006 budget.
"I think we can get a little bit leaner than that,"
Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight told The Landmark
this is week. "We can budget a little bit better
Knight said the commission targeted administrative and
security areas for cutbacks in the sheriff's department
to ensure "we have all the public safety we can muster."
"We left the investigations and patrol (salary lines)
alone," she emphasized. "It was a way we could
get the sheriff's department budget to where it wasn't
bloated at all. And it's kind of playing out that way,"
she added, pointing to the fact the sheriff so far still
has the same number of employees he had under the previous
Plunkett agreed with Knight.
"The sheriff is looking for people to quit. He has
said the cuts will come through 'attrition.' That hasn't
happened yet, either," the second district commissioner
Anderson says the commissioners aren't interpreting the
allocation of monies correctly. Some of his money for
salaries comes from grants dedicated for specific purposes.
"Some of that money is restricted as far as who
it can be used for. Their management of those numbers
is not accurate," the sheriff said of the commissioners.
"There are fallacies in the way they are trying to
manage those numbers.
Anderson points out his department currently has three
people on military leave who will be returning. He claims
his department has lost three people since Dec. 20 "and
won't replace those people." But upon additional
questioning from The Landmark, the human resources department
insists the sheriff currently has 121 employees, the same
number as were on his payroll in December.
The sheriff indicated his department "has four more
losses to go" to get down to what he views as the
top number of employees he'll be able to comfortably carry
on the payroll in 2006.
"I don't think the shortfall can be accommodated
by reducing staff by eight (as indicated by the commission)
but instead by 11. I agree that two position cuts should
come from security services," Anderson said.
That's why he has chosen to eliminate the security checkpoint
at the front entrance to the county administration building.
Anderson has said he'll eliminate that security checkpoint
this Friday. It's a move that at least one commissioner
sees as retaliation for budget cuts.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the sheriff removing
the security detail was a vindictive move on his part,"
Plunkett told The Landmark this week, emphasizing that
the sheriff made the decision despite the fact he still
has the same number of employees.
Anderson denies there is anything personal related to
the decision to end the security checkpoint.
"He is simply wrong about that. It's a requirement
to meet the operations of the department. It's not accurate
at all to say that. I think he is way off base,"
the sheriff said late Tuesday. "I'm disappointed
he feels that way. He has not indicated that to me at
Both Knight and Plunkett indicate they doubt the county
will hire a private firm to operate the security checkpoint
at the entrance to the administration building, and instead
will likely leave it unmanned, at least for the foreseeable
"Having checked with human resources and seeing
the sheriff has not eliminated anybody, it just kind of
amazes me this checkpoint is being shut down," Knight
"For a lot of years there was not a checkpoint there.
I think officeholders feel like we'll be fine if we have
that unmanned there. Many taxpayers feel like it's something
they don't like to go through anyway," she said.
The checkpoint includes metal detectors through which
members of the public must walk, similar to the arrangement
Anderson says the budget cut mandated his decision to
end the checkpoint. He said the new budget forces a cut
in staff in the security services line item.
"That leaves seven in that unit. With five courtrooms
and the front door of the courthouse to secure, there
is nobody left to guard the door at the administration
building. My goal is to absorb staff reductions in a way
that has the least impact on law enforcement in Platte
County. We simply don't have the resources to man that
position and do everything else the sheriff's department
needs to do.
The sheriff said he doesn't see that administration building
checkpoint detail as critical.
"It's a desirable position but I don't think it's
a mandatory position," he remarked.
He said two checkpoint officers will be reassigned to
The sheriff defended authorizing the 2.5% pay raise for
all employees by saying he hopes it will prevent deputies
from leaving his department to go to higher-paying agencies.
He says his department has the lowest starting wage for
officers of any comparable department in the area.
"Secondly, if everybody else in the county except
the sheriff's department gets a 2.5% raise, it creates
a morale issue to contend with," he said.