By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – Sheriff Dan Smith kept his department's budget conservative this year, much to the delight of Bell County Judge Jon Burrows.
Smith delivered a budget only slightly up over last year's amended budget for the sheriff's office Thursday to Burrows, county commissioners and County Auditor Donna Eakin.
The presentation was part of the county's ongoing budget hearings, which began May 18, for every county department.
Smith's greatest increase from last year was the purchase of new vehicles including nine marked patrol cars, two unmarked cars and two pickup trucks, a $100,000 increase from the amount in vehicles requested last year.
"We have to look at the average," Smith said. "In one year we don't buy as many vehicles, like in 2006. If you look at the past five years, the amount proposed for purchasing vehicles evens out."
Smith said the department usually requests less money to purchase vehicles. In fiscal year 2009 the department needed to replace more vehicles due to wear and tear.
Nine of the department's existing vehicles will transfer to the jail, and nine from the jail fleet will be auctioned.
Smith said the newest vehicles are reserved for the patrol fleet because they must safely handle high-speed pursuits.
The vehicles will have upgraded light bars on the roof and cages separating the front and back seats. The equipment will add $1,500 to $1,800 per vehicle.
A budgeted number for the cost of inmates' medical care in the Bell County Jail is not finalized.
Jail Administrator Bob Patterson said renovation of the old jail in downtown Belton will help generate revenue for the county. The jail will house other counties' inmates for a daily fee of $47, which covers operational costs.
Smith said he wants each county to handle its inmates' medical bills if they go to a hospital.
Burrows said the old jail's renovation will wrap up in a year.
Depending on the number of inmates at the old facility, the number of jail supervisors would fluctuate, which could pose another concern for the sheriff's office in terms of staffing the jail once it is renovated.
"There is a risk we may get a spike in inmate population before the new facility is up," Patterson said.
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.
Sheriff's office budget increase requests
$5,000 for vehicle tires and tubes.
$198,000 for nine new vehicles with light bar and cage upgrades for the patrol and civil divisions.
$54,000 for two unmarked cars for investigators and a half-ton, four-door pickup truck for the task force investigator.
$21,000 for a three-quarter ton, four-wheel-drive pickup truck for the environmental/estray deputy.
$8,000 for ammunition.
$85,000 for radio purchase and repair.
$5,786 for career ladder increases.