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Budget woes and foes

web posted March 30, 2006

OPINION – The Edgefield County Council entered the budgeting debate for the County’s Fiscal Year 2006-2007 last night. County Administrator Wayne Adams presented Council with his version of how the budget should look. However, the Adams budget and the actual budget presented, or should we say what should have been presented, are two different things. It seems that even though the President of the United States of America does not have line item veto power, Adams does.

There are several elected offices the county is required, by law, to fund. Among them are the Auditors Office, Clerk of Court, Treasurer, Probate Court, Magistrate Court, and the Sheriff’s Office. The County Council, and most certainly above all Wayne Adams, has no authority over other elected officials. Each elected office is required to submit their budget for the coming year for review and approval by the county council.

The County Administrator removed items submitted by elected offices prior to the initial submission on Wednesday night. How? Who granted Mr. Adams that authority?

We know Sheriff Dobey’s budget proposal included four additional Deputies to help bring the number of patrol officers to only half of the standard levels for a county of our population. In the Adams submitted budget to the county council Mr. Adams included a definite stab at the Sheriff by stating “We (Adam’s staff) have emphasized to the Sheriff and his department heads that salaries should be viewed as a finite resource, and that we cannot adhere to the philosophy that we (the county) must spend whatever we need.”

Maybe in Adams’ perfect world of how to run law enforcement (we are not sure where he got that degree or elected to that office), when the money runs out, everybody just has to go home. How dare some nut job slice up his wife, leave her dead with two small children for over a day, and cause the Sheriff’s Office to incur overtime. After all, doesn’t this killer know funds for salaries are “finite”?

Perhaps the predatory child molester who rapes repeatedly should not be taken to trial. After all, that costs money and overtime for investigators to follow every single lead, good or bad, to its end. They have to gather evidence, take photographs, gather DNA (more money), and pay for expert witnesses. Salaries, and we guess law enforcement, are finite.

To add insult to injury Adams makes this statement in the presentation to the council, “Staff takes the position that we should not guarantee a set number of officers a set number of hours, but that the budgeted amount represents the entirety of the resources Council wishes to allocate for these salaries…”

In other words, Mr. Adams is saying his staff is telling the county council, who has no authority over the Sheriff, what the Sheriff needs to do his job. 

Our big question is why things are done this way in Edgefield County. Each elected office should stand before the county council and present, justify, and review their budgets individually the way it has been done for the entire history of Edgefield County government, until Wayne Adams came along and assumed control.

We certainly hope the County Council will request each elected officer to come before them with the original budgets submitted as they are supposed to do. In the past, a special meeting was held just for that process. It is time to return to the proper budgetary process.

God forbid the council takes Mr. Adams’ advice. How sad a scenario it would be where a man and wife have an intruder holding them at gunpoint and the SWAT Team enters the house only to say, “Ooops, look at the time. Sorry people, we are over budget and salaries are finite so we have to go. Good luck.” 

At least we know the dedicated Law Enforcement Officers in this county do not adhere to the small-minded ways of some. They actually place their lives in danger in exchange for yours for far less money than you make a year, and they do it every day. Each call they go on that a back-up unit is not available places them, and you, in greater danger.

The Administrator’s budget was not discussed or mentioned at the meeting.


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