If ever you need some direction when it comes to spending your own money, it seems the Pierce County Council is probably up for it.
Earlier this week, in reaction to a recent announcement by elected Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor that he plans to reduce marine patrols in an act of budget trimming, councilmember Shawn Bunney sent a letter to Pastor’s office letting it be known just why, and how adamantly, he objects to such an idea.
Not surprisingly, Bunney cited the yearly deaths on Pierce County waters and noted that the dangers alcohol poses on the roadways also apply on our area’s many lakes. Anyone that’s ever boated on Lake Tapps knows this to be true. It’s like a shirtless drunk fest most weekends of the summer. Bunney says such risks are just too serious to ignore.
Especially, Bunney notes, considering the Sheriff’s office fared better than most when it came to the last round of county budget cuts. At the moment, Bunney is quick to point out and use to his advantage, the Sheriff’s office is slated to see a five percent increase in budget from 2008 to ’09. Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer calls that math “smoke and mirrors,” pointing out that any increase will go toward overtime and already-negotiated salary benefits.
“These are extremely difficult times. Even so, the Council and Executive worked very hard to keep the Sheriff’s Department funding intact,” writes Bunney.
“Why target an important first responder force like Marine Services for substantial reductions while leaving other non-first-responder portions of your budget completely intact?”
Troyer calls BS.
“That’s Mr. Bunney’s district,” says Troyer of Lake Tapps. “It’s a bigger county than that.”
“It’s another tough decision. Our main objective is keeping people in Pierce County safe. (Marine Patrols) was just the first to go, determined by priority,” says Troyer, pointing out that the Sheriff’s Department has no plans of telling victims of rape or assault that they can’t investigate their cases because the money is being spent on patrolling waterways.
“The sheriff is an elected official. The county doesn’t get to micromanage his budget,” says Troyer. “They’re not law enforcement experts.”