It could end up a case of buying now and paying later, but Spokane County commissioners agreed that the benefits of applying for a grant that would fund 11 sheriff’s deputies was worth potential risks later on.
On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to move forward with a federal grant application that would pay the $2.9 million cost to fund 11 deputies for three years. The only catch is that Spokane County would be on the hook to come up with funding to pay their salaries for a fourth year to the tune of $1.2 million.
Jennifer Stapleton, county grants administrator, said the county would also have to pay for the deputies’ uniforms for all four years – roughly $900 per officer – four all four years. The grant would also not fund vehicles, training or other equipment.
While the commissioners seemed initially reticent to the proposal when it was first brought forward last week, but -- after discussions with Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich – the commissioners opted Tuesday to go ahead with the application. If, for some reason, a “no new tax” funding source cannot be found, the commissioners said they would not accept the grant funding.
“We could always refuse the grant if we got it (and couldn’t pay the fourth year),” Commissioner Mark Richard said.
Stapleton warned the commissioners, however, that simply applying would be sending a signal that Spokane County was prepared to fund the officers for a fourth year.
“That could figure negatively against us in future grant applications,” she said.
The application to the Department of Community Justice needs to be submitted by May 23. The commissioners agreed to move forward but pull the request “if we don’t have a solid strategy” for funding the fourth year.
The sheriff’s office budget was cut by roughly $1.2 million in 2011, and Knezovich has noted that the additional personnel would help backfill posts that had to have been cut in the past two years during the economic recession.