The Isabella County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve had to make a tough decision based on rising gas prices.
Sheriff Michael Main says by the end of this week, they won’t have the money to fuel their patrol cars that was set aside in their fiscal year budget.
Now, any non-emergency calls the office gets may be handled over the phone, rather than in person.
“If someone loses a lost or stolen wallet, or a phone, instead of us going out there with their pen and paper and writing down the information, and then coming back and sitting down and typing a report, we’re going to make a phone call in those situations,” said Sheriff Main. “If there’s no suspect that’s known or there’s no safety issue present, then we will make those calls.”
Sheriff Main said this is on a case by case basis.
“Our deputies will have to make that decision of, ‘this sounds like something I need to be on site for’ or ‘I’m going to make a phone call’, and maybe they make a phone call and realize, ‘No, I need to go out and make some contact and take some pictures or take a fingerprint swab.'” he said. “We can’t really say black and white this is what we’re going to and this is what we’re not going to.”
Sheriff Main said this decision isn’t a political statement, it’s something they have no other choice in.
They will have to pull from other parts of their budget, and it’s something Sheriff Main wants to mitigate.
“We need to minimize it, or we can, and it probably won’t minimize it a ton, but it’s better than doing nothing at this point to kind of help offset that deficit,” he said.
The county says their fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.
While the budget of county services may seem concrete, it can be changed through budget amendments, approved by the county commissioners.
“The budget is actually a very fluid document,” said Isabella County Administrator Controller Nichole Frost. “Leading up to each October, the board sets those amounts, so if we’re going to increase those budget amounts, that needs to go back to the commission for approval. In that process, they may choose to increase fuel line item amounts for the next budget, but they could affect the budget now. They wouldn’t have to wait.”
It’s already something the commission is looking to possibly change.
“The board can be very responsive budget wise to what’s happening in the bigger environment,” said Frost.
Sheriff Main wants to assure Isabella county residents, nothing will change as far as responses.
“If you need us, we’re still going to respond, and we’re going to be there on those calls,” he said.