JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle cast a vote against the FY2020 Cole County spending plan Tuesday, marking the current commission's first dissent in a final budget vote.
Scheperle said his main reservation is a key change in how the county receives reimbursement for pre-trial services.
Pre-trial services were launched in Cole County in 2013 and have since allowed the county to reduce the number of local inmates housed in the jail facility.
That reduction has freed space for the county to take in more federal inmates, generating $1.4 million in revenue last year and $7.3 million dollars in total since 2013.
The program cost $227,943 in 2019, which came from the county's general revenue fund, according to Scheperle.
"All of that money has been put into the law enforcement fund and general revenue eats the cost," said Scheperle. "Last year, we received a reimbursement of $50,000. This year, the budget adds 4 new positions and eliminates any reimbursement of expenses to general revenue. This is wrong."
Scheperle said the county should deduct the expenses accrued by the sheriff's department before any money goes to the law enforcement fund.
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler told Scheperle during the meeting the revenue garnered from housing federal inmates is a vital part of funding his department.
"If you're going to take $300,000 from my department, the only way I can handle that loss is to get rid of people," said Wheeler.
"Not everyone got everything they wanted or agreed within the budget," said eastern district commissioner Jeff Hoelscher. "In my 12 years voting on the county budget, I don’t remember ever agreeing with it 100 percent. I think we all have to make concessions and compromises to make things work."
The Western District Commissioner said he will outline his disagreement in a presentation to the commission Tuesday morning.
"All in all, I think this is one of our better budgets," said presiding commissioner Sam Bushman. "Our auditor did an awesome job in preparing the budget and overall it addresses all our department and elected officials needs. I’ve been talking with Donny Schultz about our pre-trial release, and I think we can come back to it sometime in the future."