Letters to the Editor

Saving money in law and justice

I have followed with interest the ongoing controversy regarding the necessary budget cuts to the Island County departments. There are a few points that have not been emphasized regarding the law and justice departments. We do know these departments are presently allocated 57 percent of the available funds.

It has been pointed out that the sheriff’s office in 2007 paid out $249,730 in overtime, exceeding the budget by $218,360. The same overruns occurred in 2008 with the department officials collecting $399,910 in overtime. This is largely due to the desire on the part of the Sheriff’s Department to work four 10-hour days rather than five 8-hour days. It allows the deputies more work days off at a greater overtime expense to the county. Especially in a time of financial pain it seems a more prudent business approach should be considered.

Regarding the prosecutor’s office it must be remembered that Mr. Banks cost the Island County insurance group in excess of $300,000 to settle a lawsuit regarding his employment practices. As pointed out in the July 4, 2007 Whidbey News-Times editorial column, “The public is willing to give Banks a fresh start, but it won’t soon forget the $300,000 settlement.”

The prosecutor and the sheriff may claim they are not invoking “scare tactics” in their campaign for more funding and the elimination of several key “non-mandated” county departments, but their actions seem to conflict with their words. Let the law and justice departments come up with a more effective business model before eliminating “quality of life” departments within the county.

Jim Somers

Oak Harbor

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