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Board transfers $80,000 for sheriff's budget

During their meeting Tuesday, Pierce County Board members voted to transfer $81,751 from the General Fund to cover a 2005 deficit in the sheriff's department budget.

Last year, the department spent $60,229 more than budgeted for overtime pay and $35,090 more than budgeted for gasoline. After unspent money in other areas was applied to the overruns, the department was left with the $81,751 deficit.

When he met with the law enforcement committee, Sheriff Everett Muhlhausen said the department had several medical leaves last year and one officer retired, causing additional overtime.

"It all wasn't the sheriff's fault," commented Supervisor Jerry Kosin, indicating about $35,000 of the overrun was due to unpredictably high fuel costs.

Supervisor Jeff Holst, who objected to the process, was the only board member to vote against the transfer.

"It's getting to be a matter of habit," he said. "We'll cut out budget on the front end, and we'll come in and ask to have it cleaned up on the back end."

In other business:

--The board authorized using money from the Jail Assessment Fund to pay for plumbing insulation repairs in the jail. Some of the pipes in the guard corridors and ceiling are insulated with asbestos, which will be removed.

The project is expected to cost under $6,000. Administrative Coordinator Curt Kephart said the Jail Assessment Fund has a balance of about $200,000.

--Supervisors authorized the sale of county-owned property in the Town of El Paso. The property, known as the El Paso Shop, is near old quarries and has been used by the highway department for storage. The land is about three-quarters of an acre.

--County Board Chairman Paul Barkla announced he has waived the county residency requirement for Human Services Director Reggie Bicha.

In a memo, Bicha said his wife has accepted the job of principal of the Osseo-Fairchild Elementary School. The family plans to move to Eau Claire, which, said Bicha, is between the couple's workplaces.

--Ordinance amendments were introduced to have the administrative coordinator, rather than committees, supervise courthouse, office building and fairgrounds maintenance workers.