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Budget woes lead to layoffs of four in sheriff ’s office here

Four employees of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department were laid off Tuesday.

Those cut include a fulltime officer, a part-time officer and two office personnel. One of the office personnel was a fulltime dispatcher.

“We’re going to do everything we can to provide law enforcement services to the county,” said Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb. “Hopefully, this is a temporary fix on what we can do for the rest of the year.”

The sheriff ’s department is mostly funded by property taxes it collects. Webb hopes tax bills can be mailed out by October 1 to generate revenue.

“This is the time of the year when we don’t have money coming in,” said Webb, adding that he can’t be sure how much much revenue will be collected from the tax bills when they do go out.

“It’s hard to make a budget when you don’t know how much money you have,” said Webb.

After this week’s staff reductions, Webb said the sheriff ’s department now consists of himself, three fulltime deputies, two bailiffs, one administrative lieutenant and one part-time deputy.

All remaining employees have agreed to work fewer hours, said Webb, and each will work 32 hours a week instead of 40 hours.

Those working in the office will answer calls during daytime hours. Part-time dispatchers will field calls from 4 p.m. until midnight, Webb said, after which all calls will be answered by the 9-1-1 center until 8 a.m.

“This is all temporary until we see how the budget is going to work out for the rest of the year,” said Webb.

The sheriff ’s department isn’t the only police agency which serves Letcher County that has announced layoffs. Twenty Kentucky State Police troopers were laid off across the state August 30, five of whom work out of Hazard Post 13, which serves Letcher, Knott, Leslie, Perry and Breathitt counties.

Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the troopers dismissed were veteran officers brought out of retirement on annual contracts. They had signed new contracts on July 1.

KSP anticipates a budget gap of $5.8 million and Brewer said the layoffs will save $1.25 million. Half of the state’s 16 KSP posts were affected by the layoffs.

Brewer said cutting troopers in the program was “really a tough decision for me because that was my program. I came up with that idea years ago and worked hard to get that bill passed, but unfortunately that’s the shape we are in. There weren’t many options on the table.”

It isn’t clear what affect the state police layoffs will have on Letcher County.

Some of the information used in this report was gathered by The Associated Press.

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