Budget Cuts Impact Choctaw County Sheriff's Dept.

Sheriff's deputies in Choctaw County, Ala., say they're being forced to work double and triple shifts, because of budget cuts.

The Choctaw County Commission made the decision to eliminate all the department's part-time positions, and curtail overtime.

"A lot of things they do don't make any sense," said Choctaw County Sheriff James Lovette of the commission's decision.

"How many of these other offices in the county have had to have layoffs? I think some of the commissioners may have had to lay off one person, but I don't know of any other office in the courthouse that has had to lay off any people except the sheriff's office," Lovette said.

Lovette says the laying off of those four employees, along with a previous decision not to fill a once-vacant office spot within the department, has it desperately shorthanded.

"We've got our patrolling job to do," the sheriff said. "We answer calls and now we have the paperwork to do as far as serving all the paperwork in the county."

"They say it's a lack of money but then we've got four commissioners who make $38,224.44 a year for a part-time job, which is classified as a part-time job in the state of Alabama," said Lovette. "They get their vehicle furnished."

Along with the elimination of the positions, Sheriff Lovette says commissioners have voted to reduce his overtime budget for the new fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, by $8,000.

"They set $20,000 for next year for overtime for my people and they say if we go over it they're not going to pay it," said Lovette. "They're going to pay it! The court may have to force them to pay it but it says you pay overtime."

According to the sheriff, this issue is far from over. His next step is presenting the issue to commissioners at their next meeting, Oct. 6 at 9 a.m. Lovette said he plans to ask the commission to reconsider.

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