County begins budgeting processThe Stutsman County Commission began its budgeting process during a special meeting Monday. Commissioners reviewed the budgets of the sheriff’s office, Law Enforcement Center, Correctional Center and emergency management.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Stutsman County Commission began its budgeting process during a special meeting Monday. Commissioners reviewed the budgets of the sheriff’s office, Law Enforcement Center, Correctional Center and emergency management.
The budgets were preliminary and the commission took no action.
The Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department included a $6,000 increase in its fuel line item along with some new computers and an additional $1,000 for ammunition for training.
The sheriff’s office also planned to purchase shock handcuffs for use when prisoners are in court. Chad Kaiser, county sheriff, said the handcuffs could be remotely operated and provide a higher level of security in high-risk situations such as courtrooms where other individuals are in close proximity.
The county correctional center budget included a line item for a special health insurance policy for inmates while they are incarcerated. The county is responsible for any health costs incurred by prisoners while in custody if they do not have insurance. The insurance would kick in if any individual prisoner’s health care costs exceeded $10,000.
“Everyone sleeps a little better at night if we have coverage for a catastrophic event,” said Tracy Trapp, correctional center administrator.
The communications center budget included the hiring of two new dispatchers.
“Our dispatch center is 23 percent busier than in 2008,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. “And the morning shift is 29 percent busier. That is where we look to add the new dispatchers.”
The dispatch center is currently staffed by one dispatcher and one Jamestown Police Department officer during the morning and overnight shifts. The staffing level increases to two dispatchers and a police officer during the 3 to 11 p.m. shift. With the staff increase the dispatch center would include two dispatchers and one police officer from 8 a.m. to midnight each day.
The communications center budget also included $253,000 to replace the 911 answering system and upgrade to the next generation of dispatch equipment. This includes the ability to receive text and picture messages at the dispatch center. The funding for the upgrade comes from the 911 excise tax on phone lines in the county.
The commissioner’s next budget meeting will be held as part of its regular meeting at 8 a.m. on Sept. 20 at the courthouse. The commission will address the other department budgets as well as salaries for county employees.
The employee association had asked for a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and a 2 percent step raise for employees who pass their annual job review. Those factors were not built into the budgets reviewed Monday.
“We’re still going through it all,” said Mark Klose, County Commission chairman. “We haven’t seen all the final proposals and we need to see more about the employee adjustments.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com