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Sheriff's office budget deficit evaporates

April 06, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

What appeared to be a $905,554 deficit for the Imperial County Sheriff's Office was a failure by the county auditor's department to put the money into the sheriff's account, county officials said.

The missing money was to pay for salary and benefit increases negotiated between employees' unions and the county Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Harold Carter said.

Now that the money, just over $1 million, has been put into the sheriff's account, the department has a surplus, Sheriff's Office financial analyst Donna Tackett said.


Last month's report by the county auditor-controller showed county jail operations and the sheriff-coroner's department to be $3.1 million over budget nine months into the fiscal year.

The sheriff's office is still $2.2 million over budget in county jail operations because federal prisoners, and the money that pays to house them, have not been assigned to Imperial County jails, Carter said.

The report did not reflect all the updates, including more money for salary and benefit increases, county Auditor-Controller Douglas R. Newland said.

Newland said he didn't mention the salary numbers when he presented the report to the Board of Supervisors last month because he didn't think the numbers would have that big of an impact.

Carter, who was out of town when the report was presented to the board, said he doesn't understand how a $900,000-plus deficit isn't seen as having a big impact. Carter said Newland told him later the negotiated salary money was in the account.

"It's a failure on the auditor's part to perform the way he ought to, especially when you get up in a public meeting," Carter said.

The auditor-controller's department converted to a new accounting software program four weeks ago. In addition to the software conversion, Newland said he only has one or two people assigned to input the salary and benefit changes for more than 1,800 county employees.

Newland said his department hasn't been able to get the budget figures for all the salary raises updated in the system.

Tackett said every county department has to be updated.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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