COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - A group of Branch County Commissioners yesterday grilled outgoing Sheriff Warren Cannon on his spending practices after the Sheriff suggested a plan to temporarily avoid the January First layoff of road patrol deputies.
Cannon proposed using 300-thousand dollars from the county’s jail maintenance tax fund to keep the deputies on the job through May. Two weeks ago, voters, by a 20% margin, rejected a three-quarter of a mill levy to fund the road patrol. Cannon, who is retiring after 3 terms as Sheriff, will be succeeded by John Pollack, a Sheriff’s Department Sergeant who was elected November Sixth.
Cannon and Pollack met last Friday with County Administrator Bud Norman and then Cannon crunched some numbers over the weekend, and then told the Committee yesterday transferring the jail maintenance account money to the general fund would allow for keeping ten deputies for five months as a band aid fix and then go for a second try with the millage request.
Finance Committee Chairman Rod Olney was skeptical, asking what does this look like to the public. And Committee member Commissioner Linda Fronczak was most critical of Cannon, saying the Sheriff’s Department budget, even with a proposed million dollars in cuts looming, is 5% higher than it was six years ago. She also asked why state figures indicate in neighboring Hillsdale County, the per capita spending for public safety is 68 dollars while in Branch County, the rate is 134-dollars.
Cannon said over his 12 years in office, he hasn’t misused any of the taxpayers money and promised he’d be back with a revised proposal. The final shape the cuts will take will be determined when the county’s 2013 general fund budget is adopted sometime next month.