Tribune-Courier General Manager
BENTON – State Auditor Crit Luallen last week released the audit of the 2010 financial statement of Marshall County Sheriff, Kevin Byars. State law requires the Auditor to annually audit the accounts of each county sheriff.
The audit revealed the Sheriff’s expenditures exceeded receipts by $57,837. Byars said the shortfall is largely a result of a downward trend in taxes and fees for services such as car inspections and civil processes, areas which are very difficult for him to predict.
Also noted in the audit was an over-expenditure for payroll for deputies and assistants in the amount of $60,514. For calendar year 2010 the budget for payroll had been set at $900,000 as the maximum amount. The expended amount came in at $960,514.
Byars said this could have been prevented if he had gone to the fiscal court prior to the February deadline and requested an amendment, a practice he will follow in the future.
The same holds true, said Byars, for a $17,308 over-expenditure in his operating budget of $357,962, which came in at $375,270. This line in the budget includes such items as tires, gasoline and repairs and maintenance.
But County Judge Executive Mike Miller said the fiscal court would not have, and going forward, will not automatically grant those amendments without a careful review of the circumstances.
“I’ve asked everybody to cut, including me. I want to be as fair as I can be, but we are working with the tightest budget I’ve seen in 37 years,” said Miller. “I have talked to the County Attorney and asked that he set up a meeting with Kevin. My biggest question is how are we going to prevent this going forward.”
Miller noted he has cut the road department budget by $500,000 this year and the Marshall County jail has had to be subsidized due to an increased number of prisoners being sent to private prisons rather than county detention centers.
“I want everyone to take a close look at their budgets and hold the line. Everybody needs to work together and work through this thing.”
Byars says holding the line is exactly what he is doing now.
“Right now we are doing a good job. We are going to be tight this year. I have been keeping a very tight watch on things because of the shortfall last year. I currently have a spending freeze on everything,” said Byars.
Byars also noted several cost saving measures he has taken including moving to GM vehicles to take advantage of a one hundred thousand mile warranty, versus the 36 thousand mile warranty offered on Ford vehicles. He said this extends his fleet’s life under warranty by about three years, saving the department thousands of dollars.
He also points to federal grant money which has been used to upgrade equipment in the department.
“I believe we are up to about $940,000 in grants right now,” said Byars. This has allowed us to keep up on technology that is available. It will be at least four to five years before we have to look at replacing anything.”
The state audit also noted federal grants were expended on unallowable costs, citing polo shirts containing the Kentucky Sheriff’s Ranch logo that were purchased using federal awards. Byars said he was not aware until recently of a list of approved items and that the shirts were worn by deputies while on duty.