Delaware County’s $94.7 million budget for the 2017 fiscal year represents a 12-percent decrease over the current year’s budget of $107.8 million.
Sheriff Russ Martin said he was fortunate to get a $600,000 increase in his budget for 2017.
“The county commissioners were generous enough to grant our request,” he said. “We hope to create an eighth district in the southern part of the county.”
Martin said the sheriff’s office currently operates seven districts within the county that are similar in square miles, with a deputy in each. But his office is seeing an increase in calls from the larger-populated parts of Delaware County.
Martin said his office would like to phase-in seven more deputies over the next two years for the new district. “Which means the budget can absorb the additions over time,” he said. “We try to make good decisions on good data.”
“We’ve seen an increase of calls for services from the southern tier because of the rapid growth in that area,” Martin said. He said it’s not just the increase in population, but also the increase in retail establishments along that corridor.
Martin said since the addition of the Tanger Outlet Mall, it has contributed to the increased call volume for services in the county.
“We’ve seen an uptick in calls for service to the Tanger Mall for shoplifters,” he said. “We’re meeting the demand, but we’re pulling deputies from the other areas.”
Jane Hawes, communications manager for the commissioners, said the 12-percent budget decrease is because the county had an $8 million one-time payment for the county’s portion of the Tanger Outlet Mall road improvements project.
“Also we had a $5 million cash commitment to the new judicial building,” she said. “Neither of these obligations exist in 2017.”
According to Hawes, when the two payments were removed from the budget, there was no real overall change from previous years.
“The shifts that do occur are a small increase in spending on custodial services and utilities for the new judicial building,” she said. “The establishment of the new domestic-relations court and the Board of Commissioners has approved an increase of no more than 3 percent in wages.”
Hawes noted that it will be up to each elected official to determine how much of that 3 percent to approve for individual offices.