CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- They’re the ones who rush to help in your time in need.
But sheriff’s deputies in a local community could soon be turning in their badges because of budget concerns.
It’s happening in Chippewa County.
To balance the budget, the Law Enforcement Committee there is proposing cutting five positions from the sheriff’s department.
“We, along with every other department has been ordered to come into 2013 with a 0% increase,” said Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalcyzk.
While that’s going to be difficult, Sheriff Kowalcyzk said his department is looking for ways to make it work.
In a meeting Monday night, the Law Enforcement Committee proposed cutting up to five of the department’s 71 full-time employees.
That accounts for two deputies, two jail officers and one office manager.
“I have no place to cut other than personnel at this point,” Kowalcyzk said.
The sheriff said of the $475,000 deficit, $300,000 of that total is health care costs.
That’s because law enforcement and firefighters have been touched by changes to collective bargaining laws in Wisconsin.
He said another factor is out-of-county prisoners once housed in Chippewa County going home to newer and bigger jails like in Eau Claire County.
“With the loss of Eau Claire’s inmates we’re going to lose more than $200,000,” Kowalcyzk said.
The proposed slim-down will affect how deputies respond to calls like petty thefts and noise complaints, the sheriff said.
“The availability of patrol officers may dictate that you may not see an officer for a time or in reality you may not see an officer at all,” Kowalcyzk said.
People WEAU 13 News talked to Tuesday afternoon in downtown Chippewa Falls had mixed reactions to the possible cuts.
“They got to do what they can do to help the people. It's part of life,” said Kathy Mercy of Chippewa Falls.
“I think it might cut down on some time but I don't think it will be too horrible,” said Sampson Fleming of Chippewa Falls.
“A little bit scary, if we need help we need it right away,” said Janice Peloquin of Hallie.
The sheriff said the cuts could happen in November.
He said leaving some positions in the department unfilled may help avoid layoffs.