Budget battle in Mississippi County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Budget battle in Mississippi County

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The commission gave the department what the sheriff called an unrealistic budget. The commission gave the department what the sheriff called an unrealistic budget.
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

The Mississippi County Sheriff's Department could be facing a budget crisis soon. But it's not a new problem.

The commission gave the department what the sheriff called an unrealistic budget.

It's something both sides say is an ongoing problem.

Sheriff Keith Moore says he was set up to fail.

"We knew it was coming and it was going to happen," said Moore. "I'm not just throwing their money away. I'm scrimping everyday to make this budget work to work as long as it did."

Here's a look what at the numbers.

In 2010, the commission approved close to $2.2 million for the department. It spent more than $2.3 million.

In 2011, the commission cut the budget by more than $100,000, the department spent more.

And this year, the county commission increased the budget slightly. But the department is expected to run out of money this month.

County commissioner Carlin Bennett says floods, droughts, a Missouri Supreme Court ruling, and businesses leaving have caused economic problems to the county.

"With the sheriff's department, it's an over-spent situation every year," said Bennett. "We've probably been hit harder than most. In terms of available money, there's not a lot in the pot right now. That's just the way it is."

"I know the commission says it's all about the math," said Moore. "To me, it all about people's livelihoods and about keeping them safe and keeping people out in this county safe."

Bennett says safety is the number one concern. If you look at the budget, the sheriff's department gets the biggest piece of the pie

"You have to understand," said Bennett. "Every other aspect of county government and if you total all of their budgets it's $1.5 million and the sheriff's as I told you is 2.070. So if you got to cut, where you going to start?"

Moore says it shouldn't be his department. He says more cuts mean more trouble.

"You can't put one jailer on that floor out there and expect him to break up some kind of fight or something," Moore said. "Someone is going to get really hurt and then we got lawsuits coming down on us. A lawsuit can make up all this money that we are talking about to finish out this year."

There have been rumors spreading that the Detention Center and Sheriff's Department are closing. Both men told said those rumors are not true.

Bennett says the commission is likely to tap into their reserve fund, putting the county at risk for emergency situations.

The commissioners met in their normally scheduled meeting Thursday morning.

Presiding Commissioner Carlin Bennett said they did not reach any sort of a resolution at the meeting Thursday morning. He said the commissioners told the sheriff that they're waiting on a plan from him. He said they want participation from the sheriff in this decision and process. He said they cannot fund this current spending for the rest of year because it would just be fiscally irresponsible.

Sheriff Keith Moore says he plans to meet with the county commissioners sometime next week to work something out. He said he wants to work toward something that will allow them to finish out the year financially. He said he wants to salvage what they've got and keep people working there. He says they need about $356,000 to finish out the year.

Bennett stresses it has to be a negotiation between the commissioners and the sheriff's department.

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