The Phelps County Commission has started out the year hearing budget proposals from the various departments that make up county government. It was law enforcement’s turn on Tuesday, with Sheriff Rick Lisenby, Capt. Rick Hope, Lorri Thurman and Jailer Matt Shults answering questions on behalf of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department.

The Phelps County Commission has started out the year hearing budget proposals from the various departments that make up county government. It was law enforcement’s turn on Tuesday, with Sheriff Rick Lisenby, Capt. Rick Hope, Lorri Thurman and Jailer Matt Shults answering questions on behalf of the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department.

This Department makes up seven “funds” out of the total 31 county funds that make up the county budget. By far, the fund with the most dollars flowing through is the fund known as Fund 410—the law enforcement sales tax collection.

This comprises sheriffs, deputies, jailer and bailiff salaries and benefits. To be clear, 3.5 of the four bailiff’s salaries are paid out of county revenue according to County Clerk Pam Grow. The .5 number refers to a part-time employee.

The 2017 revenue in the law enforcement sales tax fund in 2017 was $5,824,000. The expenditures were $4,521,000. $2 million of that was a result of the 0.375 (3/8) cent sales tax revenue passed by voters and designated for law enforcement. Revenues also are made up of federal prisoner board reimbursement payments which were $1,744,000. This fiscal year 2018, this number has been projected to be $1 million which was the same as last year.

The Sheriff’s Department projected revenues this year are $7,022,000. Of this figure, over 2.2 million has been transferred from the Forfeiture Asset fund (drug fund) into the total budget to pay for the old jail renovation. The expenditures for 2018 are estimated to be $7,753,000.

Jailer Matt Shults mentioned the budget includes six new corrections officers that would be hired to monitor and care for the state prisoners that will be housed in the renovated old jail. Sheriff Lisenby mentioned it might be hard to fill the corrections officers positions due to the tight job market right now. He added that there will be an across the board 2 percent salary increase for Sheriff’s Department employees. Commissioner Gary Hicks reminded the sheriff that the county will now be paying one percent of the four percent employees are required to put in their pensions for retirement—an added benefit.

County Clerk Grow said there was a significant jump in workers compensation the past year, so $50,000 more was budgeted to cover the premium increase. The jump was from $80,000 to $135,000 according to Grow. For example, jail salaries (including the six new positions) add up to $1,269,000 which would be $12,000, or 1 percent, coming from the county.

The detention-security fund has obvious increases due to the new jail operation by the fall of 2018.

“There will be some expenditures for prisoner board and supplies—things of that nature that we’ll have to incur as we grow,” said Jailer Shults.
One of the funds shows an increase for the addition of four vehicles, serving as replacements for older vehicles. Sheriff Lisenby mentioned they want to purchase Ford Explorers for the higher undercarriage clearance which will cut down on repair expenses. 

Mindful of the revenues and expenditures, Sheriff Lisenby said he was cautious when he and his staff put this budget together.

“We don’t want to overshoot it, or the next thing you know, you’ll have to let some people go,” he said. “Let’s get through this year and then we’ll talk about doing something different next year.”