After a long debate the proposed Stephenson County budget for 2010 was passed by the county board. Among the major cuts, the sheriff's department will lose 20 law enforcement employees. That includes about one third of the deputies.
After more than four months of meetings, discussions and debates, the Stephenson County Board voted to approve the 2010 budget. The general fund budget has garnered the most talk as it includes the county sheriff's department -- a department that has been dreading this budget since the process began.
Every seat was filled in the County Board Room, many of which were occupied by employees of the sheriff's department and their families. The sheriff's department makes up nearly half of the general fund's budget, thus it took the biggest hit of cuts.
Right or wrong, a total of 27 employees will lose their jobs in addition to part of the county jail being shutdown. Jail capacity will be cut in half and certain prisoners will no longer be accepted.
I spoke with Sheriff Snyders right after the board cast its vote and he was somber yet resolute to push ahead. "Just before the interview started we were talking to our employees, many of them are going to be affected by this layoff. We're going to continue to do our jobs, we're going to do the jobs to the best of our ability to serve the citizens of the county. However, with the dollar numbers reduced as they were tonight, we don't have a choice but to go ahead with these reductions."
Even after all the cuts to the general fund the projected 2010 budget is still about $480,000 in the red. A number the board hopes to make up over the course of the year.
The board's finance committee will issue a monthly report on the budget in addition to regular meetings. The general fund budget was passed on a vote of 16 to 6.