LAGRANGE — The LaGrange County Council finally approved a long-standing LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department request to fund a new sergeant’s position at the sheriff’s office.
The council members approved the request Monday morning at their regular meeting. The council members set aside Monday to dig in and talk about the county’s 2020 budget.
Last month, council members met with department heads and looked at 2020 budget requests. Council members have the authority to approve or deny budget requests.
The new sergeant’s position at the sheriff’s office will oversee the office’s deputies and handle day-to-day administrative duties around the office. That, LaGrange County Sheriff Jeff Campos said, will allow deputies to remain on the road.
Campos said creating the position has been long overdue. Campos has made the same request for several years, but was previously denied by council. Campos told the council the position is needed badly.
“I guess persistence pays off,” he said Monday morning.
Police officers have become a premium position for many local governments, due to lower interest in the profession and high competition in the northeast Indiana market. The Noble County Council, during its budget hearings this fall, gave deputies a large raise to help keep wages competitive with other departments in an effort to reduce turnover.
LaGrange County Council President Peter Cook said preliminary indications after a meeting with the county’s financial advisory suggest the county will be in good shape when the budget is presented to the state later this year.
Cook admitted there was nothing extravagant in any of the budget requests made to the county.
“We’ve got a pretty good group of department heads,” he said. “For the most part they try to be fundamentally sound, and that really helps.”
This year’s budget is worth about $29 million, a slight increase over last year’s budget.
“The biggest issue that I see, and this is what the consultant was saying is you guys look like you’re doing okay, but you don’t know what the next economic downturn is going to look like, so it doesn’t hurt to build it a little bit.”
Cook said he’s confident the budget will be approved by the state with few demands for significant cuts.