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Teton County Makes Budget Cuts

Tax revenue is still down as the economy continues to struggle, and it’s causing county commissioners to make hard decisions when it comes to a budget.

To balance, Teton County commissioners have decided to cut an investigator from the Sheriff’s Office, and deputies aren’t happy about it.

Since the economy went south in 2008, much of Teton County’s budget has remained flat, and some departments have seen drastic cuts.

“The Planning Department is only a fraction of what it was in 2008,” said County Commissioner Kathy Rinaldi.

While the Sheriff’s Office saw an increase in funds last year, after looking at crime and court stats, this year Rinaldi said the county can’t afford to give the sheriff’s Office a raise.

“We felt that based on the numbers that the sheriff could take that cut,? Rinaldi said. ?We didn’t ask him to reduce a deputy but an investigator.”

After having to cut a dispatcher last year, Sheriff Tony Liford feels otherwise.

“Cutting law enforcement, I don’t think is the way to go,” Liford said.

Last year Liford had one investigator in his budget. This year he asked for money to pay for two, but that request was denied.

“I believe we are an essential service and when folks call us they expect a certain level of service,? Liford said. ?I believe we are doing that right now and will continue to regardless of what occurs.”

Liford said in Idaho there is an average of 1.7 deputies per 1,000 people and Teton County comes in with only 1.2 deputies.

With numbers against him, Liford said he doesn’t want to make the cut.

?The commissioners are doing what they think is best to do for the county, and I’m fighting for what I believe is best for the county.”

The county commissioners did budget money to begin building a new law enforcement center, which they hope to begin construction on this next fiscal year.

The commission plans to vote on the budget at the end of the month.

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