- Local News
--By Staff Writer on --
Was it bitterness over losing a heated — and often downright nasty — primary election to a former employee? Or was it just good stewardship that motivated the request?
“Well, it wasn’t love,” said District 4 Commissioner Patrick Bell.
“When I first heard about it, I just kinda shook my head and said, that’s just Ted.”
Dist. 3 Commissioner Todd Levent called it “sour grapes” and said the outgoing sheriff was “bitter.”
The man who defeated Paxton, former sheriff’s Lt. Duane Piper, said, “I don’t know what to think.”It’s odd. The whole thing is odd. I’d be interested to know if he’s ever asked for a reduction before. I don’t ever remember it when I worked for him.”
In a Sept. 7 email to the county’s Chief Financial Officer David Gruen, Paxton wrote:
“After considering the recent election results, it is my recommendation and desire that the 2013 budget for the Sheriff’s Office be reduced by $5,014,000.00.”
He went on to say, “The voters of the county have voted for a candidate who campaigned on the promise of cutting the Sheriff’s Office budget by $5,000,000.00. I have heard the voters. I obviously am not privy to his plan, however he must have a plan since he has quoted an exact dollar amount on several different occasions.”
Bell added, “He did make some specific campaign promises. I hope he can keep those promises to the citizens.”
Paxton went so far as to recommend specific cuts including $2.6 million for housing prisoners outside the county, $1.278 million for new staff positions that had been included in the 2013 proposed budget and $300,000 for gasoline for patrol cars.
Of course, Piper hasn’t been elected just yet. He still has one last hurdle to clear in the general election next month. Lt. Col. DT Smith has entered the campaign as a write-in candidate.
Because Paxton is a constitutional officer with his own budget, commissioners are required to honor his request. However, at Thursday’s county commission meeting, commissioners approved Bell’s motion to put the $5 million in a special fund that the new sheriff can request all or part of but only with the approval of the Board of Commissioners.