With a 7-1 vote Wednesday, Hamilton County commissioners overwhelmingly denied Sheriff Jim Hammond’s request for an additional $275,000 to complete the fiscal year in the black.
Commissioner Greg Beck was the only commissioner to vote in favor of granting Hammond’s request. All other commissioners voted against the resolution, and Commissioner Chester Bankston abstained.
The vote came one week after Hammond implored the group to grant his department a boost in funding, his second in as many years. In 2011, he was granted an extra $375,000 to cover the cost of overages.
In remarks to commissioners last week, Hammond said overages in gasoline costs alone would have been enough to cover the entirety of his requested increase. Hammond added that the costs of providing medicine to inmates diagnosed with mental illnesses and mandatory overtime for officers were also running expenses for his department, among other things.
Despite the pleas, several commissioners indicated they would not grant Hammond’s request, and they followed through Wednesday with no discussion.
Although Hammond had said his department could potentially be forced to lower services and even “park cars” as a result of the denial, he did not indicate Wednesday what he planned to do with the situation.
“I’ll just have to get back with my staff and figure out where we go from here,” Hammond said. “Obviously, it makes it tighter . but when the commission speaks, you follow through. I can’t say we’ll do anything different right now, until I take a look at everything.”
The sheriff’s office will now dip into their fund balance to continue operating till the beginning of the next fiscal year. Hammond said he would remain concerned about the level of the balance going into the future.
“I’m always concerned about the level of the fund balance,” he said. “What we have to remember is we’re the second-largest funded agency in the county, and we don’t have the benefit that the school system does with some of the things they get from the state. So we have to depend on the local taxpayers for law enforcement.”