LOWVILLE — Officials were supposed to work together toward ending the budgeting vs. spending controversy in the Lewis County General Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, but Sheriff Michael Carpinelli left feeling that legislators are acting against him personally while committee members said some progress has been made.
As agreed upon in an informal meeting earlier this month with board officials, Sheriff Carpinelli came to get the money to pay for the long guns already received and being used by road patrols.
Since the sheriff’s “discretionary funds” were frozen to help offset over-spending in his department’s budget, part of the controversy has been that the sheriff didn’t follow protocol by submitting a purchase order and getting approval before ordering the guns.
After the meeting, Deputy Brett W. Croneiser, who is in charge of ordering guns and ammunition for the department, took responsibility for the breach in protocol.
He said he sent County Manager and Budget Officer Ryan Piche a memo, put the purchase order in the system and told the vendor to order the guns before approval because that was his normal process with items already funded in the budget.
The sheriff wants to pay the vendor for the guns, which requires $7,400 of his budget and the $2,600 National Rifle Association Grant to be released.
The five long guns, including sites and stocks, cost $2,000 each, Mr. Croneiser said, while the remaining $12,000 of the $22,000 requested and put on hold by Mr. Piche was for training, targets, ammunition and holsters on a separate purchase order.
Although there was no explicit ultimatum given to the sheriff in the meeting, a memo indicating the data legislators would like to see from his department was handed to him.
The memo from Mr. Piche to Board of Legislators Chairman Lawrence Dolhof and General Services Committee Chairman Jerry King encourages the use of software already installed in the department to analyze call volume, locations and timing to evaluate staffing needs and make scheduling more efficient by creating “a series of ‘canned’ reports” for both recreation and road patrols.
It also indicated more overtime data and the information contained in the GPS units in each patrol vehicle would also help the department become more efficient.
When Sheriff Carpinelli asked about payment for the guns, He was told it was related to his willingness to supply that data.
“When you give us an answer back on that we’ll sit down and work with you and we’ll free it up,” King said.
District 3 Legislator Ron Burns wanted to know if the money for the guns was released, would the sheriff agree to use the proper channels in the future; he said he would.
Sheriff Carpinelli assured the legislators that he is watching his budget carefully and that it isn’t overspent yet after Mr. King said it was heading in that direction.
After the meeting, committee member Thomas Osbourne said he felt progress was being made, but no one on the committee would indicate what would happen if the sheriff did not provide the information discussed in the memo.
“I met their demands. I’ve done everything they’ve asked,” Sheriff Carpinelli said, but he likened his experience with the committee to having a bucket of ice water poured over his head, “You can see now, it’s personal.”