Sheriff explains budget cuts to County Commission

Sheriff explains budget cuts to County Commission »Play Video
Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner

EUGENE, Ore. - Sheriff Tom Turner told the Lane County Commission he should have done a better job notifying them about $3 million in cuts to law enforcement before he announced them to the public last week.

The sheriff told the board he had to come up with the plan because in his words, "The bill was due."

The county budget didn't call for the cuts to the Lane County Sheriff's Office, but the budget hinges on concessions from union employees. Turner told KVAL News that those contracts remain in force and it will be up to commissioners if they want to press the union to reopen negotiations and seek labor cost savings or concessions at the table.

Turner's solution to closing the budget gap is to cut the budget, resulting in fewer patrols, fewer jail beds - and no property crimes enforcement.

The loss of 84 jail beds was the key focus on Tuesday. Turner said even with the loss of bedspace, they should still be able to keep most violent offenders behind bars.

However, one commissioner said he's not so sure. 

West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich pointed out, "The last time we cut 84 jail beds in this county, one of the offenders we released caused some significant damage in our community.  I don't want to be in that situation again."

"I don't see any positive issues coming our way money-wise," Turner said. "I just don't see a money flow coming in.  If there is, that would be great.  I just don't see it."

Bozievich said he's interested in looking at pulling money from other departments to re-open jail beds. Nothing happened Tuesday in the way of concrete proposals.