Less money in the county budget doesn't necessarily mean a smaller caseload for the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, and Sheriff Steve Fenwick is hoping to alleviate the strain.
The Sheriff's Department is requesting that an additional deputy position be reinstated to assist the department's two detectives.
Fenwick appeared before the county commissioners and county council earlier this week to appeal for the position. He said the new position would primarily investigate sex crimes and abuse cases, freeing up the detectives for other cases.
"They just can't function with what we have right now, so we need that person back," Fenwick said.
The proposed position would not be brand new. Early in 2011, the council and commissioners approved the transfer of money for a jail officer position to the merit deputy position.
However, before the position was filled, it fell victim to budget cuts. The money was not used in the 2011 budget, and was not included in the 2012 budget process.
"I'm very sympathetic to being supportive to the sheriff's department, but I would rather have tackled the issue during the budget process," Councilman Phil Gick said.
Fenwick reminded him of the history of the position.
"We did ask for the position and it was granted, but we were asked to cut, and we cut the position," the sheriff said. "We have no place else to cut, except personnel.
"We're definitely not trying to cover anything up."
As witnesses of the need for the position, Department of Child Services Director Shelly Chadd and Elizabeth Butts with Family Support Services testified at Tuesday's council meeting. Both women reported the increases in cases their departments have seen and of the tight schedule the state requires in responding to such incidents.
Fenwick said the department has a candidate in mind for the position in Kyle Gibbons. The current jail officer is also in charge of the department's sex offender registry.
The question for the council is of where to find the money. Asked if he foresaw any additional requests for personnel in 2012, Fenwick said "absolutely not."
The council tabled the issue until the February meeting while they consider the possible expenditure.