Local sheriff’s department feels budget crunch, could cut deputies

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local sheriff's department is looking for ways to beat a budget shortfall to keep deputies on the streets.

It's happening in the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department.

The undersheriff said a reduction in dollars from the state and tough times for the county are making things tight for the department.

For the past five years, Captain Dan Bresina said sheriff's department has had to do more with less.

And this year's budget preparations are no different.

“The shortfall analysis that came out in the budget guidelines for the sheriff's office was $282,730,” Bresina said.

Already stretched thin from years of making cuts, Bresina said the department has no choice but to cut employees from its estimated $9.6 million budget for 2013.

Bresina said a large number of those cuts would have to come from staffing in the patrol division.

“It comes down to 80 plus percent of our budget is staff. If we were to cut the full $282,000, we were looking at four deputy sheriff positions from the sheriff's office,” Bresina said.

But the undersheriff said that may not fly with the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors.

He said the board has asked the department to keep staffing levels as is.

Bresina said the cuts would force a reduction in service to the community.

“Which may mean property crimes that are a lower amount may not be investigated; we may look at reducing the number of hours we spend out running traffic control,” Bresina said.

And those aren't the only problems.

The new county jail has already been accounted for in the budget, but Bresina said the department could have trouble keeping it fully staffed.

The Hueber Center, the department's work release program, could also be on the chopping block to save money.

“We believe that our services are critical for safety in our community.
And we hope that the community speaks up and the County Board listens,” Bresina said.

The preliminary budget still has to pass the Executive and Finance Committee before the County Board votes on it in November.

The county has a survey for the 2013 budget, asking people what services they think are essential.

A link to that survey is posted below.

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