GOLIAD – Sheriff Kirby Brumby has taken the battle for his office’s budget to Facebook after commissioners proposed a cut that would remove funding for two deputy positions.
“I need your help,” said Brumby in one of numerous posts made on the official Facebook account belonging to the sheriff’s office within the past two weeks. “The commissioners’ court is planning on cuts to the sheriff’s office budget which will affect services ... I am asking you to contact all the county commissioners and county judge to make your concerns known.”
That online debate came on the eve of a Tuesday vote by commissioners to approve the county’s 2019 budget, which includes about $250,000 in cuts to the sheriff’s office, including about $80,000 in deputies’ pay, Goliad County Judge Pat Calhoun said. Monday morning, about 70 Goliad County residents attended a budget workshop meeting that had been moved to a larger courtroom to make room for the audience.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Donna Peterson, a 66-year-old Goliad resident, who attended the meeting and opposed both increased taxes and cuts to the sheriff’s office. Like others in the room, Peterson said she had followed the discussion on Facebook.
“We’re going to have more crime coming into this town because (criminals) will know we aren’t protected,” she said.
But some county officials have decried the discussion on social media as misinformed, arguing the changes aim to cut fat from the sheriff’s office without hurting patrol abilities. They also claimed Brumby has a history of poorly managing his budget.
“I don’t pay attention to Facebook because it’s a very small and vocal group that only gets partial information,” Calhoun said “And most of that is wrong.”
County commissioners David Bruns, Precinct 4, and Kenneth Edwards, Precinct 1, agreed with Calhoun.
“He’s overstaffed already,” Bruns said about Brumby.
“The intent is not to take any deputies off the road,” said Edwards, who added Brumby should better manage the several deputies who work in the office. With only eight deputies currently on the roster, Brumby said he has just enough patrol deputies to ensure two are always on duty, according to an Aug. 30 Facebook post.
Although the sheriff has repeatedly argued on Facebook that the cuts will prevent some patrol deputies from working without backup and potentially place them in danger, Edwards said that claim is not the complete truth.
“We see the bills every week, and we see a lot of overtime going to the sheriff’s office, but a lot of it is not going to the patrol deputies,” Edwards said.
Additionally, Edwards, Bruns and Calhoun argued Brumby has spent much of his budget wastefully.
Bruns claimed Brumby used funds meant for the upkeep of patrol cars on administrative vehicles.
Edwards criticized a sheriff’s policy that allowed some deputies to take patrol cars home after work even if their place of residence was as far away as Calallen, Palacios and Orange Grove.
Calhoun said his calculations showed the county lost about $60,000 because of those drives.
But Brumby argued allowing his deputies to make long drives home in company cars was a necessary privilege to bring new deputies to Goliad County, which pays about $5 less per hour than the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office.
He also wondered why officials plan to give a 3 percent raise to all county employees when he faces considerable cuts.
Calhoun said commissioners plan to vote on a new policy that would allow county employees to use work vehicles for official business only.
Hours after Monday’s budget workshop had concluded, Brumby fired back on Facebook again.
“I am being accused of not running my office and budget efficiently,” he said in the post, adding, “My budget has increased just 2.4 percent a year averaged annually ... while over the same time period, calls for service have increased 900 percent.”