SIOUX CITY -- Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew returned to an annual request Tuesday, again asking the County Board of Supervisors to approve adding more money for deputies to patrol roads.
Every time for six years, Drew's request for more workers has been denied. This time, again, no immediate affirmation was given by the supervisors.
"We have asked continually for more bodies...Our staff is stretched thin and at the point of burnout from working additional hours," Drew said in an interview.
While Drew makes decisions on where sheriff's office employees perform their varying tasks, the supervisors set the budgets for each county department and office. In discussing his multi-million budget proposal for the 2019-20 fiscal year, Drew said on Tuesday that he wants to add three deputies and one jailer, which would cost $254,000, for wages and benefits.
"The total number of employees have stayed the same since I have taken office. We have shuffled people around to try to fill gaps. With all the new demands regarding mental and substance abuse work, we are stretched to thin, which ultimately shortens patrol functions in our rural area," Drew said.
In January 2017, Drew asked the supervisors to add a deputy, and he asked for more in other years. On Tuesday, Drew told the Journal he thinks the best way to plan for staffing is through a five-year plan, phasing in sheriff's office workers.
The supervisors made no final decision, so the matter could come up again on Feb. 12. They are trying to keep costs low, in order to not raise the county property tax levy.
Board chairman Keith Radig said he would not support the additional deputies, in order to keep a lean budget. Supervisor Marty Pottebaum said working through a five-year plan on deputy additions is a logical way to take a longer look.
Iowa counties must set budgets by March 15. The budget being vetted would cover revenue and expenses for the period from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
The supervisors have been holding weekly budget hearings on the proposals of departments, and those will run into early February. When the proposed budget was first presented at the beginning of the month, it totaled $56.9 million, or $2.3 million more than the current year budget.
Going into the Tuesday meeting, county Finance Director Dennis Butler's projection showed the property tax rates at $7.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for city residents and $9.90 per $1,000 for rural residents. The tax rates in the current year are $7.29 per $1,000 for city residents and $9.53 per $1,000 for rural residents.
One element of the budget is how much is spent on mental health services for low-income residents and others. A proposal Tuesday said the county's costs would be $3,445,900, or $33.63 for every resident of the county.
The spending will come in a new region, as Woodbury County on July 1 will exit the Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health and Disability Services agency and become a member of the Rolling Hills Community Services Region. The entire 2019-20 Rolling Hills budget is projected at $7.5 million, with the other $4 million coming from the other seven region counties, which lie east of Woodbury County.
Additionally concerning the budget, on a motion by Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, the board unanimously moved $300,000 from Sioux City Hard Rock Hotel & Casino county gaming revenues into another budget category, in order to reduce property taxes by that same amount. That still leaves $133,000 in county gaming revenues as a cushion for other expenses, Butler said.
Also in the meeting, the supervisors approved a lawsuit settlement with Michael Lane, who lives in Monona County.
The settlement is for $24,750 being paid to Lane, after a county snow plow driven by Karl Frederick John Johnk drove through a stop sign and collided with Lane in November 2015 near Hornick, according to a court document. The action was a compromise settlement of a disputed claim.