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Stephens County Sheriff's Department gets budget increase

DUNCAN, Okla._While other local governments are struggling to reach budgets that are virtually unchanged from last year, Stephens County has approved a budget with a $1 million increase.

The county commissioners and the excise board approved a $9.3 million budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The biggest increase went to the Sheriff's Department, which received an extra $150,000 dollars.

Sheriff Wayne McKinney wanted to have more than double of what he had last year, but knew that wasn't possible. He just wanted to show the officials how much it costs to run the department and ultimately he settled for the $150,000 increase.

In the past the department was able to overcome their shortfalls with up to $500,000 from the Department of Corrections for housing inmates. But in April, the DOC announced counties would hold fewer inmates and for less time, nearly eliminating that income.

"We were at a point where we were extremely overcrowded. So it helped us to that point to get our population down in the jail. On the other hand it's going to hit us financially," explained Sheriff McKinney.

He says Stephens County residents will see a direct impact from the budget increase. Right now they are three deputies short and they'll be able to hire two more deputies, which actually saves them money in compensation pay and overtime.

"When you are understaffed you have to call people in on their days off, or they work over. There will be an emergency call and we'll require them to spend additional hours out there, which all adds up," said Sheriff McKinney.

The sheriff says they have worked with a slim budget for six years, but that hasn't slowed them down. In fact, in the last five months alone his department has made more than 700 arrests on felony and misdemeanor warrants.

"The bad guys are out there and committing the crimes, and I want to be able to enforce the law fairly and make sure this county is a safe place to raise your kids and your family," said Sheriff McKinney.

Since they won't be getting DOC money, the sheriff says they won't be able to become fully staffed or make some upgrades on vehicles this year.

The total county budget includes a total carry-over of nearly $5 million from last year.


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