The sheriff cites an increase in crime and service calls as the reason for the request.
“We are getting more than 1,000 calls for service per month, and our jail is near capacity at 107 inmates,” he told the commissioners Monday.
In 2015, the jail averaged about 70 inmates per month, Nowlin said, and 600-700 service calls per month.
An increase in drug-related crimes, domestic violence, DUIs, theft, burglary, and property crimes has deputies “struggling to keep up,” Nowlin said.
“We’ve become a reactive force instead of focusing on prevention, and that does not sit well with me,” he said.
He said there are only two or three deputies on shift at any one time to cover 2,000 square miles. To handle calls and situations safely, he said he needs four to six deputies per shift.
“We have cases where officers are fighting for their lives, or situations where we need more response to protect the public, but backup is not available,” Nowlin said.
The sheriff is asking for $177,151 to pay for four patrol deputies, and $298,480 for six jail deputies.
He has also cut the budget in some areas, including for transport ($10,000), fuel ($4,000), janitorial ($10,000), dispatch fees ($15,000), and administration ($5,000).
The sheriff is budgeting $8,000 per year for the new mounted patrol program, part of a community policing strategy. Stables to house two trained horses will be added on the west side of the sheriff’s office.
To reduce recidivism, the sheriff budgeted $30,000 for instructor pay as part of an education program so inmates can earn their GED and take life-skills classes.
“It’s really taken off with 136 inmates this year participating,” Nowlin said. “It gives them hope, and the goal is to get them into mainstream society and stop the cycle of going in and out of jail.”
Nowlin said that his administration has improved the budget process by closely tracking expenses to improve efficiency.
“I have been fiscally responsible with tax dollars, and don’t put in for something we don’t need,” he said. “We want to bring our operations of public safety up to a higher level.”
The request comes at time when the county is looking to cut 2017 budgets for each department by 10 percent because of a drop in tax revenues from Kinder Morgan CO2 production, which contributed 60 percent of the county budget in 2016.