Possible budget cuts have Wichita Co. department heads frustrated

Wichita County Sheriff's Deputy
Wichita County Sheriff's Deputy

WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - Wichita County jobs could be lost from budget cuts, leaving department heads frustrated. One department head upset with the situation in Wichita County Sheriff David Duke.

Right now county commissioners are looking at cutting 19 jobs across all the departments.

Departments that are going to have to cut back include the District Attorney's Office, County and District Clerk's offices, along with the largest department, the Wichita County Sheriff's Office.

Department heads are frustrated about the possible cuts, but commissioners believe something has to be done.

"We need more deputies, we need more jail staff," Sheriff Duke said. "I'm sure everybody else in the county family, the District Clerk, County Clerk, District Attorney, everybody needs more staff as well. But we're working with what we have."

Sheriff Duke said county departments do more with less, which is why he is one of many supervisors frustrated about a number of possible budget cuts.

"It's very frustrating because they want all this, but in reality from what we're being told, it doesn't have to happen," Sheriff Duke said. "The money is there but they want to try and save more money."

Wichita County Judge, Woody Gossom, said that is not true.

"They were given some bad information by one county official that said we're sitting on $17 million," Judge Gossom said. "That official knows very well that $4 million of that was a loan for specific things."

"You've got to use that money for the jail," he added. "You've got to use that other money in there for the purpose it was borrowed for. It's bad logic."

Judge Gossom said that despite the county being spread thin, it's time to change the way they do things.

"No one is 100 percent engaged," Judge Gossom said. "Not even in my office. But maybe we can increase that from maybe 80 percent engaged to 90 percent engaged and do without someone."

However, Sheriff Duke does not believe that is being applied to everyone.

"Then there's the other topic of people getting pay raises, where some people are getting laid off," Sheriff Duke said. "That's just despicable to me."

Judge Gossom said raises were ordered by the administrative board of judges. He said it is just the county's job to say yes.

Sheriff Duke wants commissioners to understand what his workers do.

"I do not like for some people in the court to just dictate that we need to cut this cut this, and they don't understand or know what jobs that these people do," Sheriff Duke said.

"If you wait to put the breaks on 20 feet away from the wall, that's probably bad planning," Judge Gossom said.

Judge Gossom said there is also a rumor he is getting a raise. He said it's a great rumor, but not true, adding he would not do that while they look to make cuts.

Sheriff Duke said he would be okay with the cuts if they were happening across the board, but said that's not being done.

Judge Gossom said they will continue to talk with the departments to come up with the best solutions before a budget is passed. The county is looking to cut $1.5 million.

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