In the course of a discussion at a recent Fredrick County Charter Commission meeting, a story was being told that the county's sheriff is so frugal that he turns money back each year to the county coffers. Over the past 10 years, his turn-backs, according to the sheriff and several speakers, who all spoke very authoritatively, have added up to several million dollars. No one wants to have dollars wasted if the budget estimate is off occasionally, but to have this happen every year, appears to show a weakness in the county's budget process.

A situation where budgets are continually being under-spent, and the department head is attempting to weaponize his or her under-spending, then a red flag should go up. The budget process should be able to easily project what the amounts need to be to avoid continual over taxing for that department.

Whether intentional or not, it is certainly leading to a great deal of misunderstanding, especially among taxpayers, most of whom consider consistent mistakes in overtaxing as a sign of flawed budget management.

The county's budget team should be able to recognize if there is a likely annual ”turn-back amount” buried in the FCSO's annual budget request. Since the FCSO's annual budgets show increases every year, it is apparent that something needs to be checked out.

Budget year 2020 is on the horizon, and now seems to be a good time for the county budget team to do a more thorough review. After all, the FCSO may not be the only department following this technique.

(12) comments

Lev928

Everyone forgets -- or simply doesn't know -- that the 287 program receives certain federal funding that is unrelated to the county budget, per se. Sure taxpayers pay salaries for FCSO personnel, but the feds pay for the 287 training and processing/holding of illegal immigrants under the program. At least that's the way it used to be. I can't imagine it's changed much, if at all. As stated in other comments, it's not just the FCSO that isn't spending budgeted line items. Try being realistic and focus on the ENTIRE county and not just the law enforcement arm that operates under the color of the Constitution and law.

KarlBickel

That is not actually true Lev928. There is No federal reimbursement for the 287 (g) program and local jurisdictions must absorb ALL costs and liability. See Local Guidelines from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Reports/Immigration_Law_Guidance.pdf

MD1756

An audit would be good, but turning back money each year is not a bad thing if it is actually happening. It depends on whether or not there are critical needs that are going unfunded. In my opinion it is better to turn back money than to spend it on items in the last month or two just to show the budgeted money is needed and to not have budgets cut in the future. Unfortunately this budget game is played all the time. I've seen it when I worked at the EPA where we had to find projects to spend money on so they wouldn't cut our budget in the future. The problem is worthy projects weren't funded earlier in the year when the final budget numbers were still in question becuase Congress can't pass budgets on time. Therefore, turning money back can be a good thing if budget carryover is not an option.

phydeaux994

The problem I have with the Sheriff is that it is always TALK, the Sheriff SAYS the 287(g) Program does this, the Sheriff SAYS he turns back millions to the County, the Sheriff SAYS this, the Sheriff SAYS that. But there NEVER is any Documentation, there NEVER is any proof of ANYTHING HE SAYS!!! Show us some Reports from ICE that verify his claims about the 287(g) Program. Show us a County Budget that reflects the millions that Sheriff Jenkins has turned back. Talk is Cheap! As the old Ad asks “Where’s the BEEF?? 🐂🐂🐂

KarlBickel

[thumbup]

DickD

Ed, you are absolutely right. Still, the Jenkins supporters are going to attack you. And you left out the fact judges have criticized our Sheriff for not properly training deputies.

yogib

looks like the sheriffs budget issues reek of personnel and management issues. Wake -up Budget team!!!!

KarlBickel

A preliminary review shows that the unused funds are in fact from personnel costs, unfilled positions. There is a serious recruiting, hiring and retention problem that contributes to this. Another point is that this underspending of budgeted funds is not specific to the Sheriff’s Office. Other county departments underspend their budgets too. It is time to clean up the budget process and better manage taxpayer dollars in the Sheriff’s office as well as other county departments.

neilyoungfan25

Go away Karl! If you ran for Sheriff again it would be the first time in my life that I would knock on doors and hand out literature for your OPPONENT!! How many of your minions, like Edward, do you call every month begging them to write a letter to bash Jenkins?

DickD

We might run into each other as I knock on doors to get rod of the incompetent Sheriff we have.

timothygaydos

good point about Karl.... no need for more socialists

mr_twist27

A majority of the money turned back is from OT and salary savings from open positions. The Sheriff and all county depts budget for full staffing, is someone quits, fored or retired there is an immediate salary savings until the position is filled. Unique to law endorsement, it takes up to a year to hire and train a new officer so sometimes positions go unfilled. They cant over hire prior to the position being open or else they would then be over budget.

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