Excessive overtime in Erie County’s Jail Management Division is prompting a citizens panel to recommend that the County Legislature re-evaluate keeping the Sheriff’s Office in charge of management at the county’s two jails.
The Erie County Citizens Budget Review Commission on Wednesday said lawmakers should review the 10-year-old merger of the Sheriff’s Office and the Jail Management Division and look at whether the two entities should again be separate and distinct.
It was one of 10 recommendations approved by the commission, which was created by the Legislature to monitor spending in the aftermath of the county’s 2004-05 budget crisis. Though the panel remained dormant for years, it was revived last year by the Legislature, which also made changes in its composition and duties.
“Even though the law has been in place for many years, this is the first time that … an annual report by the commission will be sent to the Legislature,” said Scott A. Bylewski, chairman of the citizens panel.
Other recommendations made by the commission include changing the deadline of the county executive’s proposed budget to allow adequate time for the administration to include third-quarter sales tax revenues.
The county receives those revenues from the state each year on Oct. 10, while the County Charter requires the executive to submit a budget proposal to the Legislature by Oct. 15.
Well over a quarter of the county’s budget revenues come from sales taxes, compared with about 18 percent from property taxes. As a result, the panel said that it is vital for the county to use the most up-to-date data in preparing the budget.
Moving back the deadline for submitting the budget proposal would allow the Budget Office to work with more accurate data instead estimating based on just the first two quarters.
The panel also recommended that the Legislature pursue ways to bridge the gap between sales and property tax revenues.