By Brandon Macz
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
MOSCOW, Idaho — Salary increases continue to dominate fiscal year 2014 budget requests to the Latah County Commissioners, with Sheriff Wayne Rausch also requesting a 4 percent across-the-board increase for his staff.
Commissioners say they will focus on compensation for all county employees after several tough years of budgeting that resulted in a $100-per-month flat fringe payment this year in the hopes of doing more in the future. The county's compensation committee has already recommended a 4 percent increase for all employees.
Sheriff's Lt. Brian Strampher said the increase would be an additional $87,300 for the department. Rausch presented a budget Monday that was about $20,000 more than this year's $2.86 million, with most operational costs unchanged. Any potential salary adjustments were not included, and commissioners said they are awaiting the results of all budget requests before addressing employee compensation.
Ron Manell, jail commander, said the sheriff's office can expect a $6,000 increase for a jail medical provider in next year's budget after a dispute with the current service provider resulted in a contract termination effective in November. He said inmates are assessed after 14 days of incarceration. However, a dispute began when he questioned the current provider about two inmates who had not been assessed after three-and-a-half months.
"Their response to it, evidently, was, 'We don't want to play anymore,' " Rausch said.
He said he also anticipates at least a $2,500 increased cost to stay connected to the Idaho Law Enforcement Tracking System, which allows the sheriff's office to run driving and criminal history searches on suspects.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're being held hostage by that because we can't do our job without it," Rausch said. "If we don't pay it, then we don't have the ability to run."
Rausch has $125,000 in his proposed budget for fleet replacements, which is about the same as was approved by commissioners last year for three new vehicles. He said his office is also receiving a $16,000 grant to purchase two all-terrain vehicles for enforcement of trails and other recreational areas.
Strampher was asked about the more than $4,000 in youth program revenue, which is distributed to counties based on purchases of dedicated vehicle license plates. He said the sheriff's office does little with the fund due to the specificity for its uses, which Commissioner Dave McGraw said might be a good funding source for a Latah County Youth Advocacy program.
"It was very, very conservative," McGraw said of the sheriff's budget. "Everyone in the county is focused on pay increases for the employees."
Rising juvenile detention costs and a 24.7 percent increase for medical insurance being quoted by Blue Cross of Idaho for next year will make that difficult, said Commissioner Richard Walser.
Commissioner Tom Stroschein said an insurance update will be provided by the county's consultants later this week.
"I'm not sure we want to know," he said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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