Sheriff fights to save deputy jobs, fix could be short term

Posted at 2:24 PM, Sep 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-16 14:24:38-04

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WSYM) - With jobs on the line, a sheriff makes an eleventh hour budget proposal which could save those jobs at least for now.

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich pitched a budget proposal of his own at the Ways and Means Committee Meeting Friday inside the Eaton County Courthouse.

As it stands right now, 10 sheriff’s deputies could possibly be losing their jobs.

That number was originally 26 county wide, 18 of those positions were deputy positions.

“Who’s going to be laid off, when it is going to occur, do I need to look for a new job now?” said Reich.

Those are questions asked all too often lately at the Eaton County Sheriff Department.

“Public safety is a priority and it’s a priority not only with me and my administration but also with each resident,” said Reich.

Reich plans on asking townships to help foot the over $1 million dollar budget shortfall.

The food program at the jail has been contracted out to save money and that’s not all.

“Our goal is to maintain a certain level that we have with the inmates that the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) brings into us,” said Reich. “(We’ll) maintain this as well as working with MDOC on a new program that they have which we've been told would start January 1, 2018.”

The Eaton County Jail was handpicked by MDOC to host the vocational program which was long in the works before money became a problem at the county.

The new program would bring in 40 to 60 inmates into the jail at $45 per day however it’s possible the program would only be short term.

“That could be gone next year with the new governor coming in,” said Reich. “But it is revenue that is generated and hopefully that'll continue by the state.”

“I’m skeptical that the income he thinks is going to be available to them is going to be there but I’d be happy to be proven wrong in that regards,” said Joseph Brehler, District 8 Commissioner. “It's new revenue that we really don't have a history with.”

Time is of the essence as the sheriff works to protect the men and women who protect us.

“We're going to be busy to make sure we sustain what we've talked about,” said Reich.

FOX 47 News asked the chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee Friday, Rodger Eakin, why wasn't a millage proposed in the first place to save these positons.

Eatin says the idea was proposed but some members on the board turned down the idea saying it was unacceptable to ask the taxpayers to foot the bill.

The Eaton County Ways and Means Committee approved Sheriff Reich's proposal Friday.

It'll now go to the full Board of Commissioners which has the final say.

Their next meeting is scheduled for September 20 at 7 p.m. inside the Eaton County Courthouse.

If approved, in 90 days the sheriff's efforts will be reviewed by the board which could mean things would go back to square one if the plan is unsuccessful.

FOX 47 News will continue to follow this story.