November 6, 2013

Cracking down on crime

By Suzanne Werre
BHG News Service

   The county will have to dig into its own pocket to help pay the salaries of two new deputies after county commissioners approved advertising for two full-time deputies, paying their salaries using monies from an oil-impact grant that will pay for $46,000 of each of the deputies’ salaries for 18 months. Commissioners noted the grant monies won’t cover the yearly salary or include any benefits, so the county will have to make up the difference.

   Hoping to be able to garner more oil-impact funds, the commission approved applying for a grant which would allow the county to hire two detectives, one for narcotics and one for criminal investigation. If awarded to the county, the grant funds would cover 15 months’ salary for the two detectives.

   In going through some numbers comparing law enforcement calls from 2012 to 2013 so far, the Sheriff’s Department estimates there will be 500 to 700 more service calls made this year than last year, and there are already 30 more drug equipment (paraphernalia) violations this year through October than there were for the entire year 2012. In comparing past years to present, and noting the need for increased personnel, it was noted that in 2009 there were 9,451 calls; in 2012, there were 13,575; and so far in 2013, as of Oct. 29, there were 12,267. Drug paraphernalia violations went from 103 in 2012 to 135 so far in 2013.

   In other law enforcement business, the commission voted to advertise for the full-time jailer position in-house, and will advertise in the local newspapers for the part-time position that is needed.

   Director of Tax Equalization Todd Schreiner gave the commission the heads-up that property valuations may have to go up again, as the difference between what some properties are selling for and what they’re valued at are not close enough. Property sales valuations thus far are at 71.9 percent, and the county is required to be at a minimum of 90 percent, noted Schreiner. The county recently underwent an across-the-board 10 percent hike in property valuations, but as of now, it is still about 18 percent off of the required minimum of 90 percent. (For instance, if a buyer pays $100,000 for a home, it needs to have been appraised at at least $90,000. If the house is assessed lower, it isn’t meeting the minimum 90 percent valuation.)



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