Friday, July 24, 2009

Butler sheriff to lay off 34

Butler sheriff to lay off 34 | | Cincinnati.Com

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The story is about Butler County but it could just as easily be about any other police agency. Budget cuts are forcing personnel to be laid off. The article indicates the sheriff's office may be able to save $700,000 as a result of the lay offs.

There are those that will say the department had grown too large, therefore they need to cut their personnel. Such an argument misses the point, the sheriff's office grew as the county prospered and additional personnel were required to patrol and enforce the law. Maintaining the safety and security of the community makes it more attractive to businesses. More businesses mean more jobs for residents. If calls to the sheriff's office take longer, than people may begin to feel less safe. The long term impact could be that some businesses leave or new ones fail to locate in the county.

All of this says nothing about the impact the decision has on the people who held these jobs. The economy is not recovering so job prospects are fews. The sheriff and staff who had to make this decision are in a no-win situation. No matter how objective the criteria to determine the lay offs, somebody is going to cry foul. Worse, the budget cuts were taken in payroll. If the sheriff's office uses the offset to purchase say new cameras, then the justification to rehire the personnel in future years may no longer be there.

These decisions are going to happen in more municipalities as residents lose jobs which in turn means a reduction in tax revenues. A reduction in tax revenues means a corresponding reduction in public services. There is no perfect solution. Leaders have to try to balance cuts with leaving the community positioned to recover once the economy shifts. Creating an unsafe community (due to a perceived lack of timely fire/EMS/police response) may set the delay economic recovery for many more years.

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