Sheriff Hall frustrated by distribution 'equity' of Dean's proposed budget

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 12:07am

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, directing sharp words toward Mayor Karl Dean’s administration and questioning its proposed budget, said Wednesday he’s unsatisfied with the level of funding in his department –– especially during a time of a potential property tax increase.

“As we sit here today, we can barely survive on the budget as we live today in our institutions and the services we provide,” Hall told the Metro Council at ongoing budget hearings Wednesday.

“We’re at a point where we don’t believe it is in the internal equity of Metro government [to reduce the sheriff’s office’s budget] when we’re raising over $100 million in tax increases,” he said. “This isn’t reasonable for the sheriff’s office. That’s my position.”

Mayor Karl Dean’s proposed budget –– heading to the council for a final vote June 19 –– would decrease the sheriff’s office $75 million budget by $200,000. But according to Hall, his department has seen reductions five years in a row. The net result of this “pattern,” he said, has been the elimination of 78 positions over that span.

“It is a concern of mine, it is a frustration of mine,” Hall said. “But I do not want anyone here nor the administration to believe or worry that I’m opposed to their budget. I am concerned about the way it is distributed.”

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling, approached by The City Paper afterwards about Hall’s remarks, deferred comments to those he made during the hearing. This included a touchy exchange with Hall.

Riebeling, who called Hall a “great sheriff,” said departments such as Metro Public Works have seen far greater reductions in recent years than $200,000. “In perspective, remember, it is a very insignificant cut.”

Hall, however, took exception with the way Riebeling initiated Metro’s budget process in January by asking all departments to submit how they would implement 2 percent cuts. Most department heads went ahead and also submitted requests for budget increases, but apparently not Hall.

“If he didn’t submit any request for improvements, then his is the only department in the government that didn’t submit requests for improvements,” Riebeling said, adding that he only heard a few days ago that Hall had issues with the budget.

“I don’t know where you heard it,” Hall said. “I wasn’t in town.”

“Did I say something that was wrong?” a visibly irritated Riebeling asked.

“Yes, several things,” Hall fired back.

Hall, whom many perceive holds higher political aspirations, perhaps a future mayoral run, came to the council Wednesday clearly seeking to send a message.

He called his department’s budget situation “dangerous,” adding that reductions would hit his office’s “community services” the most. This includes storm water drainage work with the Metro Water department, he said, as well as assisting Metro Public Works with pickup duties.

Dean, who has labeled public safety a top priority, has sought to sell his proposed 53-cent property tax increase in part by highlighting investments in the Metro Nashville Police Department, which would get a $6.7 million increase over the current fiscal year. Dean’s budget includes funding to staff a new DNA crime lab and retain 50 cops hired originally by an expiring federal grant.

But on Wednesday, Hall –– an oft-controversial figure for his implementation of the federal 287(g) deportation program –– seemed to take a swipe at Dean’s commitment to all of Metro’s public safety entities.

“I respect him greatly,” Hall told the The City Paper, but added: “Public safety is more than just staffing a police department and hiring and operating a DNA lab. And he knows that. It is broader than that.”

Inside his jails, Hall pointed out mental health and alcoholic and drug treatment services are provided. “The equity when we’re talking about public safety needs to be thought out as a community,” he said. The sheriff’s office should play a larger part in that discussion, he said.

Before a final vote later this month, the mayor’s budget can still be tweaked in the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Hall, hoping to restore funding in his department, appears to already have some allies to do just that.

“When we talk about public safety, the sheriff’s department is the flip side of the coin of the police department,” Councilman Phil Claiborne told his colleagues Wednesday. He called the sheriff’s office situation “serious” and an “anomaly” in the council’s budget hearings. Others have gone smoothly.

“If we are really at a place where we’re reaching a yellow zone or a red zone in terms of staffing as it relates to the control or supervision of the prisoners that we have, then I think we have a legitimate reason to reevaluate this budget,” Claiborne said.

Councilwoman Karen Johnson agreed. “I’m concerned with what I’m hearing this evening,” she said.

17 Comments on this post:

By: whitetrash on 6/14/12 at 2:46

Other than housing prisoners, what exactly does the Sheriff's department do? I thought Hall was suppose to be a conservative, if so he support the reduction of government even if it is within the Sheriff's department.

By: spooky24 on 6/14/12 at 5:34

The serve criminal and civil warrants which is about as thankless and dangerous of a job you can have. Visit the intake facility some weekend night-or any night-and see for yourself.

sp

By: budlight on 6/14/12 at 6:20

Hall said "He called his department’s budget situation “dangerous,” adding that reductions would hit his office’s “community services” the most. This includes storm water drainage work with the Metro Water department, he said, as well as assisting Metro Public Works with pickup duties."

Whitetrash, just drive up and down the streets sometime and look at the garbage all over the place, mattresses, tires, and other household debris. Then look at the garbage bags piled up after the Sherifff's department has had their inmates walk and clean up.

Metro Public Works is a joke. They are not on top of keeping our streets clean. Without Judge Norman's drug court and the Sheriff's department, we'd be in a real real real trashy city - sort of like some cities in South America, Asia and other places where they trash the land.

I'm part of a team that "volunteers" to pick up trash. Cripes! I pay the fricking taxes to fund the fricking Public Works and they don't do the job. So I'm paying the taxes AND picking up the trash. What is wrong with that picture? Thank you Sheriff Hall for all you do for our city. When you run for Mayor, let me know. Too bad you didn't do it last time. We would not have Dean spending, spending, spending our money and raising our taxes if you had.

By: govskeptic on 6/14/12 at 7:24

Believe nothing this finance director says, he's only following in the footsteps
of the previous one which is apparently a job that requires the art of deception!
Hall followed the Mayor's request by showing a budget with 2% cut and was
penalized for doing so. Many other dept's skipped that demand and showed
the same or increase to their budgets and were rewarded by the administration!

Mr. Hall may or may not have higher aspirations, but that doesn't make his
remarks untrue or unreasonable. The immigration program is popular with
the public but is always called "controversial" by the press which takes the
liberal view of "HATING" it!

By: political1iam on 6/14/12 at 9:12

By the Metro Charter the Sheriff's office has 2 functions:housing pre-trial and county time inmates & serving civil warrants. Hall has created his own little political empire ala Fate Thomas that does no community service, but only political favors for his cronies!
This is his 1st shot at a run for Mayor and the return of the good ole boy system to Nashville government! Torrance, Arriola and Hall are all remnants of a corrupt system that landed that landed many in jail. Let's not go back there!

By: bfra on 6/14/12 at 1:28

I wonder why the budget was even presented to the council. The council is, with the exception of a very few, made up of B kissing, yes sir Karl puppets. Metro gov. is so corrupt, scam artist Arriola still in office, Torrence still drawing an over the top pension after being ousted for not doing his job. However, I do not see Hall as being 1 of the "good ole boys".

By: wmsamart on 6/14/12 at 2:12

Maybe Mayor Dean can use the money saved by cutting the Sheriff's Dept. to build more bicycle lanes that go nowhere.

By: acluu on 6/14/12 at 5:04

political1iam says: "By the Metro Charter the Sheriff's office has 2 functions:housing pre-trial and county inmates & serving civil warrants. Hall has created his own little political empire ala Fate Thomas that does no community service, but only political favors for his cronies!
This is his 1st shot at a run for Mayor and the return of the good ole boy system to Nashville government! Torrance, Arriola and Hall are all remnants of a corrupt system that landed that landed many in jail. Let's not go back there'!

Elliot Ozment, is that you?
You still po'd over that 287g, huh?

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 6/15/12 at 7:06

The Sheriff's Office is unnecessary in a consolidated city-county government. It's functions could easily be placed under the Metropoitan Police Department. Sheriff (and maybe some other elected offices) still in place because they were in the (very old) State Constitution. The Sheriff's office does a very poor job of how they treat inmates. Being Mayor is out of the question.

By: Jughead on 6/15/12 at 7:50

The only thing this budget does is ream homeowners to funnel more money to the liberal black hole known as "public education."

By: Jughead on 6/15/12 at 7:52

It is unbelievable that Obama Dean just wants more,more,more when the rest of us are struggling.

What an elite puke who lives off of his wife's millions. Dean doesn't give a damn about anyone other than other government workers.

And--this idiot will want to get a state income tax if he becomes governor. Just wait.

By: ThatGuy on 6/17/12 at 1:13

Sheriff Hall has continually cut his budget every year. As in the story he has cut numerous positions through attrition over the last few years. Throughout the years the officers working there have continued to work, and do so with less. I invite anyone to work as a correctional officer, they have to deal with unruly disrespectful "adults" , persons with mental health issues, exposure to diseases, and the possibility of being assaulted. How many people go to work everyday and think "I may have to fight an inmate" , "I may get urine/feces/blood thrown on me today", or "I may not get to go home to my family"? They need adequate staff to ensure the safety of the officers as well as the inmate population. They make the best of what they have and deal with it. The raises that have not been received through the years are understandable and have been met with a decrease in moral. However most long time employees understand that working for the government comes with the understanding that when things are good raises will be given, and when things are bad raises will not be given. You have to take the good with the bad in that line of work. The 4 percent increase in salaries is in my opinion overdue. Healthcare, fuel, food, and just about every other consumer good has seen an increase in prices. With stagnant wages it has basically resulted in a "cut" in pay for metro employees. It has also resulted in a decrease in promotional opportunities that may have been easier to get during "better" times. For those who may not be aware, Sheriff Hall has continually ended the fiscal years under budget and returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Metro Government. There are programs in place that have generated income that has been returned to Metro, and yet he has continually cut money out of the budget. I cannot think of many more departments that actually come under budget, and also generate income for the county. For the comment stating "Other than housing prisoners, what exactly does the Sheriff's department do?" , They house prisoners, serve civil process, community outreach, provide treatment programs for DUI/drug offenders, provide numerous metro agencies with inmate workers to help offset costs, and several other things I am probably leaving out. The Sheriffs Office has a community outreach program that is constantly involved in the community for various things (not "doing favors for cronies") . Many employees even make donations to the MECC (Metro Consolidated Charities), as well as several other organizations. I understand that people are still struggling, and do not disagree that Metro could trim money from their budget.

By: elcid89tn on 6/17/12 at 6:01

i.am.a.taxpayer wrote, "The Sheriff's Office is unnecessary in a consolidated city-county government. It's functions could easily be placed under the Metropoitan Police Department."

The MNPD conducts policing activities. It does not house prisoners or conduct the rehabilitation services the DCSO does. The DCSO performs jail functions. The two activities and organizations are separate and distinct.

By: JayBee56 on 6/17/12 at 8:55

Throughout English law, the sheriff has been authorized to enforce the law. The office of county sheriff is usually established by a state constitution. In most all counties of the U.S., he or she is duly elected to enforce the law. The Metro Charter needs to be revised to once again make the sheriff the chief law enforcement officer of Davidson County with authority over both his office and the police department. The 1963 charter was a compromise document and it's been 50 years - the time to have separate law agencies is past. Why have a chief who is appointed by and answerable to a mayor when we already have a sheriff who is directly elected by the people? In this current budget season, why do we need both a police chief and a sheriff? I'd rather have a sheriff.

By: Ask01 on 6/18/12 at 3:23

I like JayBee56's idea.

If I understood correctly what I read, the 1963 compromise effectively emasculated the sheriff's department, rendering them little more than a messenger delivery service for legal notices, inn keepers for the incarcerated, and in general, a clean up service to handle the duties MNPD doesn't wish to dirty their hands with.

I really like the idea of having a chief law enforcement officer, elected seperately, not beholding to the Mayor who would arrest him or any other city official in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, with the likes of Mayor Dean and his cohorts, this would only give them another distraction to divert attention from issues with which they should be dealing.

By: Left-of-Local on 6/18/12 at 10:10

::SIGH:: Oh how I wish people would remember that Metro is only 50 years old.

Anyway. It sucks, but the department probably needs to be axed. Now, they could keep their JOBS, and become Metro officers, but the department itself seems a little redundant. It certainly seems like gradually starving their budget is a crappier method than just pulling the trigger on an actual new plan.

But, these are the struggles of a young city. And of course, the erroneous notion that you can never be conservative AND suggest at the same time that people get what they pay for is just another piece of noise in the discussion.

By: standingonthetop on 6/19/12 at 3:07

This is directed at "politicalIam"...

First and foremost, you obviously don't know Sheriff Hall personally, or as even Sheriff of our county, otherwise you wouldn't say anything so untrue or outright ridiculously ignorant!

Your comment is actually beyond even deserving a rebuttal, but Sheriff Hall deserves to be defended to the highest degree from idiots like you verbally attacking him because of your own sense of inadequate existence.

With that in mind...Sheriff Hall is an honorable man and an excellent Sheriff. He has done a tremendous job in maintaining the integrity of his office and the services that they provide without exception. Sheriff Hall has went beyond said call of duty by initiating something nearly everyone sees as necessary, but don't have the nerve to back publicly...the 287 (g) program. Sheriff Hall had the intestinal fortitude to step up to defend and maintain the Constitutional rights of legitimate domestic citizens AND the Constitutional directives entrusted and given to his office, proving that he is the epitome of public servitude.

I applaud Sheriff Hall and his efforts of tireless and devoted citizenship and professionalism., and find comfort in knowing that people of intellect see vermin like you for what YOU are...a malcontent ASSHOLE!