Sheriff's office says Yakima County needs to reevaluate its budget

Sheriff's office says Yakima County needs to reevaluate its budget
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Deputy Nathan Boyer stood before Yakima County commissioners Tuesday with a simple plea. He asked them to take a closer look at how understaffed he says the sheriff's office is. He says many deputies feel unsafe on the job, including himself.

"We simply don't have the resources and the manpower to do the job effectively and to do the job appropriately," Deputy Nathan Boyer said.

The sheriff's office tells KIMA Yakima County gives the department an annual fund and isn't concerned if it's enough to cover everyone. Deputies say it resulted in the department cutting 30 officers in recent years.

Yakima County commissioners say the sheriff's office doesn't have that much room to complain when it comes to its budget. Deputies have received a salary increase every year since at least 2001.

However, the sheriff's office tells KIMA those numbers are fair and are based on local comparisons and the county tax base.

The county tells KIMA the average salary for a deputy jumped from an average annual salary of $47,000 in 2000 to $73,000 a year today.

Commissioners say the sheriff's office also received $8 million from the 3/10th tax increase.

Commissioners say despite the added funds, the homicide rate has doubled since 2006. They question how well your tax dollars are being spent.

Aaron Wuitschick is the Yakima County Law Enforcement Guild president. He tells Action News that the sheriff's office has benefited from the 3/10th tax, but says for years the general fund has been cut.

"Which reduces the number of deputies so, of course, the crime rate is gonna, people are gonna be getting away with more crime," Wuitschick said. "There's less deputies out there to protect you."

Deputies say public safety, not money, is their primary concern.

"All the deputies are taxpayers," Wuitschick said. "We all have families that live here and we're concerned about our own families as well as the public."

Yakima County's budget will be released by the end of November.

Time will tell if an agreement between the sheriff's office and commissioners happens in the same time.

"We have not been able to keep pace with the labor cost increases," said Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita. "Meanwhile, we've had declining revenues. We're simply trying to do the best we can and we ask for patience. We do not take any of this very lightly."