Berrien County community members protest cuts - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Berrien County community members protest cuts to Sheriff Department

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When it comes to public safety, these Berrien County community members have a lot to say.

"We expect our county to give us the safety that they are responsible to provide us with," says Shirley Zych.

"We're concerned that citizens won't feel safe," says Laurie House.

The Berrien County Commissioners are figuring the budget for 2013. They're short about $700,000. Chairman, Dave Pagel says some money may come from a savings account and the rest, "we're developing a consensus to see just where all the cuts will come from to make it balance."

Some cuts may be at the sheriff's department. Sheriff Paul Bailey already cut 15 positions in the past six years.

"I can't do it by constantly cutting, cutting and cutting," says Bailey.

For 2013, the commission wants him to operate with the same amount of money as in 2012, something Pagel knows is challenging. "It costs more to operate each year. It is very hard to flat line like that."

Especially when retirement has left three positions open.

"I think it's important that we fill those positions," says Bailey.

Based on the comments in today's commission meeting and a petition with 65 signatures, the community wants the positions filled too.

"They're supposed to provide us with all the safety that when we make that call, we expect someone to come in a certain amount of time," says Zych.

"Cuts have to be made somewhere else," says House.

Which is something the board is still discussing.

"We're certainly taking their input. We've got some tough calls to make," says Pagel.

Calls that have to be made fast. The budget needs approved by the end of October.

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