Athens County Sheriff Asking Unions To Forgo Raises

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The Athens County Sheriff is making progress to cut $125,000 from his budget.

Sheriff Pat Kelly says he's asked the union to forgo raises.

He also plans to leave a lieutenant position vacant, which will save about $55,000.

County Commissioner Lenny Eliason says that puts the sheriff "pretty close" to the $125,000 figure, adding up to about $110,000 in savings.

"Every officeholder is doing what we can do to help with the budgets," Kelly says, later adding, "We're working within our means, working with the commissioners to work within our budget."

County Commissioner Larry Payne says those reductions are part of $800,000 in projected cuts Athens County is making.

"It's really a catch-22," Payne says. "You want to keep costs down, but yet you have to provide safety. It's basically a balancing act. Trying to come up with a balance where the county can provide the protection that the sheriff feels like we need to do and within a budget that we can afford."

Payne says the sheriff's office has the largest budget in the county.

Sheriff Kelly says the economy is largely to blame for the deficit.

"Well, it's bleak all over," Kelly says. "I don't care whether you're the sheriff or the recorder or prosecutor or whatever. With all these mandated cuts from our governor, it's crippling our local communities."

On Thursday, the sheriff will know whether union members are willing to forgo raises.

If not, he will have to find another way of making up the shortfall.