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Sheriff Wells defends budget

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CANTON — Most of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department budget overruns for 2012 that were criticized by some legislators Monday were beyond his control, Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said.

The sheriff was unable to attend the committee meeting but is scheduled to appear before legislators July 15.

Sheriff Wells’s department was scrutinized because it was among several that spent more than their budget in 2012.

Mr. Wells overspent his budget by $978,879.

“Three-fourths of this are things I don’t control,” he said. “None of it was to pay deputies.”

Much of the overrun was due to settlement of a contract with correctional officers, which included multiple years of retroactive payments, and more than $350,000 toward retirement and health-related costs. In addition, Sheriff Wells said, he had to staff shifts at the jail where several officers have been out on workers’ compensation.

The cost of running the jail should come as no surprise to legislators, Sheriff Wells said.

“They know exactly where this is coming from because I had to come back to them at the end of the year,” he said.

The year-end budget figures had some bright notes, including a gain of $448,182 over budgeted figures in the county clerk’s office.

The additional revenue was a result of continued growth in the downstate auto dealer business, County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp said.

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