I read with great interest the letter to the editor from Sheriff Paul Babeu.
As an elected official, he does have the right to place his staff where he feels they are needed most. But I sincerely hope the sheriff is not playing politics in trying to coerce the supervisors into giving him more money in this next budget.
Sheriff Babeu has asked for more funding throughout the past two years. One request was for $12 million. That was simply impossible to fulfill. We ended up agreeing on giving him a portion of what he asked for in early 2013.
I will be candid when I say one of the biggest priorities for this board is public safety. Over 60 percent of our general fund goes toward public safety expenditures from the sheriff to our constables. Public safety is a concern for residents across the county, not in just one area. The sheriff feels that San Tan Valley deserves more of a priority than other areas. I disagree with this move.
Taxpayers have been quite vocal that they want to see accountability when it comes to our spending of their money. I agree. It is important that we manage our resources carefully and get the biggest bang for the buck. That is why I am in favor of Supervisor Cheryl Chase’s suggestion that we go through the sheriff’s budget line by line and see where the money is going and offer suggestions where he could get the more for your money.
The sheriff has other avenues to pursue for additional revenue. There are RICO and grant funding sources available to the department. It would be prudent to look at these areas and see if the sheriff can fund more of his needs through these monies.
I look forward to working with my fellow supervisors and the sheriff to see if we can find more efficient and effective ways way to help fund law enforcement throughout all of Pinal County.
/s/ Pete Rios
District 1 Supervisor