Sheriff Responds To Budget Criticism From County Supervisors

(Juneau) The Dodge County Sheriff says he is moving on from a shortfall in his department’s 2018 budget that has caused some controversy on the county board. A resolution adopted by the board Tuesday night uses monies from the general fund to cover a $496-thousand dollar deficit. The main cause of the shortfall is being blamed on the closure of the old jail, referred to as J-Pod, which reduced a longtime revenue stream. For years, the old jail house had housed federal inmates for money.

Some board members cite other reasons for the shortfall including over-estimates in federal inmate revenues, workers comp miscalculations, underfunded grant matches and overtime expenses. Sheriff Dale Schmidt disagrees, saying the old jail was required to stay open until the end of 2018 and while revenues ended, the expenses to run that facility did not go down at the same pace.

One supervisor said at Tuesday’s county board meeting that this issue has brought to light which department heads are of good quality and which ones are not. Schmidt says despite any perceived animosity, he has no concerns working with the county board moving forward and notes that he has plenty of allies on the county board. Schmidt admits that there is some friction with a few individuals on the county board which he says is unfortunate but adds that he will move past that.

During Wednesday’s appearance on WBEV’s Community Comment, Schmidt was asked by a caller to defend his reasoning to send staff to leadership courses outside the county with his department facing budgetary and staffing concerns. In his response, Schmidt reiterated his message of moving on. He says that there are people that simply do not like him but at the end of the day 60-percent of the voters in Dodge County in the most recent election felt the direction the sheriff’s office is moving in is right.

Schmidt says there is a likelihood that his department’s budget may see another significant increase in order to maintain the same level of services the sheriff’s office has provided in the past. He adds that early reports from an operational analysis, currently being conducted by a California-based firm, echoes his concerns over understaffing and funding.