Kane County Board and sheriff 'eons away' from new budget agreement

Sheriff 'eons away' from OK budget

  • Kane County Board Member John Martin -- here talking with Chairman Chris Lauzen -- told Sheriff Don Kramer (not pictured) Thursday his proposed 2016 budget is "eons away" from any numbers he would even consider.

    Kane County Board Member John Martin -- here talking with Chairman Chris Lauzen -- told Sheriff Don Kramer (not pictured) Thursday his proposed 2016 budget is "eons away" from any numbers he would even consider. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

  • Cristina Castro, chairwoman of the Kane County Board's Judicial and Public Safety Committee, said it's very early in the 2016 budgeting process. She's optimistic her committee can find a budget solution for Sheriff Don Kramer prior to the new fiscal year, which starts at the end of November.

    Cristina Castro, chairwoman of the Kane County Board's Judicial and Public Safety Committee, said it's very early in the 2016 budgeting process. She's optimistic her committee can find a budget solution for Sheriff Don Kramer prior to the new fiscal year, which starts at the end of November. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted7/17/2015 5:30 AM

A Kane County committee told Sheriff Don Kramer to prepare for the "unpleasant" Thursday as a preliminary 2016 budget presentation included far more expenses than board members will approve.

Kramer has faced a budget debacle ever since canceling a $2.5 million contract to house federal inmates at the county jail shortly after taking office. That loss of revenue will combine with declining home foreclosure fees to be the major obstacles to Kramer's desire to expand his staff.

 

That expansion involves adding five more deputies and five new correctional officers. Kramer said the deputies are needed because response times for nonemergency calls are poor.

"Reckless driving, suspicious vehicles, those kind of complaints -- unless there is a victim that wants to see a police officer, we put those on the back burner because we are taking other calls," Kramer said.

In the plan, one of the new officers would help tackle the backlog of 20,000 outstanding warrants the department has. Another officer would shore up the gang and drug unit. The remaining three would comprise a new traffic unit.

"The number of traffic tickets will go up, and therefore revenue from traffic tickets will go up," Kramer said. "But the focus of the unit is reducing the number of traffic crashes, specifically DUI offenders."

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The five new correctional officers would come on board to allow for the reopening of the cell block Kramer closed when the federal marshal prisoners left. The jail population is, on average, down by about 100 inmates since then. But Kramer said there's no guarantee the numbers will stay low. If the county needs another cell block, he needs more correctional officers.

But growth takes money, and Kramer's budget indicated that new money wouldn't be able to come from the amount of cash the county board is giving Kramer to run his office this year.

Numbers show a 26 percent drop in revenue for the sheriff's office in 2016, a dip of nearly $830,000. That combines with more than a 12 percent increase in expenses, to create a red flag for board members like John Martin.

"As we work on reconciling this gap, you're going to have to look at some things that may be unpleasant," Martin told Kramer. "We are eons away from a budget. This is just too big a gap to sit and talk about."

The committee told Kramer he can't expect to grow his office or even return it to previous staffing levels when the corresponding revenues of the past are gone. Kramer said it's early in the budget process. He is willing to work with the board to discuss areas to cut costs or bring in new money.

Coroner Rob Russell leads the other department that's been a budget concern for the board. Russell decided to defer his budget pitch for 2016 until the board takes a vote on his request for more money in the current year's budget.

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