Sheriff's office, county board at odds

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- After four amendments to get more money to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office are shot down, Sheriff Gary Caruana and the county board are both refusing to budge.

"There's no fearmongering here; these are the facts. I have nowhere else to go; I don't know where to go," said Gary Caruana.

After cutting $1.7 million from the sheriff's office budget, Caruana says he can't do anything else without seriously impacting public safety.

"What bothers me is we're not gonna get those services to someone who's having a home invasion, a murder-suicide type of thing, an accident, that maybe we could've saved that person if we would've responded sooner, but now they've passed," said Caruana.

$4.3 million in cuts were originally passed by the board to solve the county's deficit.

Caruana believes he cannot cut that large of an amount all at once.

Monday night, he proposed four amendments, totaling $2.7 million. Those amendments were not approved for recommendation to the full board.

"We're gonna get sued for failure to train; we're gonna get sued for failure to supervise because there aren't supervisors out there," said Caruana.

"But talk about kicking it down the curb. We're doing a 50-yard field goal with this one," said Winnebago County Board Finance Committee Chairman Ted Biondo.

Biondo says refusing to make these cuts will mean serious long-term consequences for taxpayers.

"Some other services have already been affected. Do we get to the point where we get rid of animal services? Do we put the nursing home on some other deals?" said Biondo.

Biondo believes the board will never approve an amendment similar to the one proposed Monday night, however Caruana says this will not be the last they hear of it.

"I said it last night, pay me now or pay me later, but you're gonna pay," said Caruana.

Those four amendments included employee contracts, the 911 center, the emergency operations center and service and supply funds.