Of the $12 million-dollar Clare County budget, the Clare County Sheriff’s Office makes up nearly half of that, employing nearly 90 people.
But because of a budget deficit, each department was asked to cut back. The sheriff’s office took the biggest hit.
“A large part of that was we didn’t fill some positions because we’d seen this big budget cut coming up,” said Sheriff John Wilson.
Since last spring the Clare County Sheriff’s Office has lost five employees, and none of those positions have been filled.
So now, they’re short staffed.
“It's hard to when you get in a situation like this, now I've got to get people in here. It'll take me over a year to get us back to where I'm comfortable that I feel safe that we have a safe number of people to respond to calls,” Wilson said.
Not only that, but employees are also underpaid, compared to surrounding areas.
“One thing we struggle with here in Clare County is from a 2018 Michigan Sheriff's association wage study. Our deputies and our corrections officers are at least two dollars or three dollars less an hour to compare to the other counties that we touch.”
Which is why they struggle to keep employees around.
“I think our county board of commissioners and our financial people next door, they really need to look at some ways here to get our wages to where they need to be, so I can keep quality people in the county,” Wilson said.
The department also didn't update equipment such as a generator, and that allowed the sheriff's office to cut more than $450,000.
County Commissioner David Hoefling said almost every department was able to cut back to 2017 levels. Much of that was done by early retirements and not filling empty positions.
The board meets Wednesday to present the budget.