Steamboat Springs Routt County commissioners elected not to act on a request by Sheriff Gary Wall to restore some of his employees' salaries.
A 10 percent countywide pay cut was adopted April 1 to close a budget gap as a result of declining revenues in a down economy. Wall asked commissioners Tuesday to restore the pay of some Sheriff's Office employees.
Wall told commissioners that according to state statutes, he was allowed to set the salaries of his undersheriff and deputies with approval of commissioners. Commissioners approved Wall's 2009 budget last year. Wall said commissioners never consulted him before they cut his employees' pay.
"I understand revenue streams are slower, but it doesn't change my statutory responsibility to provide law enforcement services for the county," Wall said. "One size doesn't fit all. There is a difference in the services we provide. I don't want to diminish those services."
Commissioners disagreed with Wall's assertion that his employees couldn't provide the same level of service unless their pay was restored. They said they didn't have a choice but to cut pay countywide.
"Because of the budget crisis, we asked for this across-the-board 10 percent pay cut because we are $5 million in the hole for 2009," Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said. "That was the most effective way to balance the budget."
In addition, she said all county departments were asked to make operational cuts. Mitsch Bush said the Sheriff's Office provided "far and away the lowest percentage."
Last week, the county laid off three employees in a continued effort to meet a budget shortfall still at more than $1 million for the rest of the year. Other vacant positions were frozen or eliminated earlier this year. In late April, the county also adopted a furlough plan for employees to match the countywide pay cut.
To restore Sheriff's Office employees' salaries from now until the end of the year would cost the county $47,000, Finance Director Dan Strnad said.
Commissioners said Wall didn't supply any new information Tuesday from the information he provided them when he opposed the cuts in April. Because of that, Commissioners Doug Monger and Nancy Stahoviak said they didn't need to take formal action on Wall's request.
"I don't know if a decision needs to be made here," Stahoviak said. "We made a decision April 1. We heard arguments then. No new arguments were presented today."
After the meeting, Wall said he was disappointed and would look at his options.