COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An El Paso County commissioner said Thursday that he has looked over the numbers and believes the future sheriff will not have to lay people off during this when he enters office.
Bill Elder is running unopposed for sheriff in November. He said Wednesday decisions made by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will force him to lay off employees at the start of his term.
Future sheriff Bill Elder said he has repeatedly voiced his concerns over current employment numbers at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
"I am going to be making budget decisions with regards to personnel day one," said Elder. "I think it's ridiculous and I said so to all five of the country commissioners."
The Sheriff's Office is authorized under its budget to employ 785 employees. There are currently 799 employees on staff. Also, there are 20 recruits attending the Sheriff's Office August academy.
Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sgt. Greg White said the organization looses 2.3 full-time positions each month through normal attrition.
Elder said there isn't room in the budget for 20 new recruits plus the over-hires.
"Those 30 sworn employees at roughly $90,000 per person are going to stretch the budget $2.7 million," said Elder.
Elder said he will be forced to lay off employees when he takes office.
"He (Maketa) is developing a budget for 2015 that my staff and I will have to live by, and I haven't been asked one word of input," said Elder. "If I would had been asked, I would have said 'no.' I would much rather at this point go in with fewer people and be able to make necessary adjustments."
White said in an email that the numbers do not tell the whole story. He said the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has a complicated hiring process that necessitates over-hiring.
"Our 2014 budget supports the new hires without any additional funding and Colorado law supports the hiring," said White in an email.
Elder said Maketa is trying to tarnish his first days in office.
"Is he trying to create a situation? I absolutely believe he is," said Elder. "I think it's ridiculous."
Elder has voiced his concerns to El Paso County commissioners.
Commissioner Dennis Hisey said he has looked into the number.
"We have been in contact about it, that's why I know the numbers that I know now and we don't get in the Sheriff's Office numbers normal and that's what made us decide we are kind of in an OK position here," said Hisey.
"It's really kind of being unfair because its setting Bill Elder up to be in a position where he is way over staffed and looking for a couple million dollars he either has to find somewhere or he is going to have to lay off some people," said commissioner Peggy Littleton.
Elder said he would cut positions throughout the Sheriff's Office, not necessarily the new recruits. Still, Littleton questions why the August academy was set up.
"It's not fair to these families, it's not fair to these recruits who have re-arranged their entire lives, moved their families, got their kids in school," said Littleton.
Recently, Maketa promoted the Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lt. Jeff Kramer to a commander in charge of the patrol division.
There are currently three commanders on paid administrative leave after they filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Maketa. They accuse him of having affairs with three women and promoting them to positions they didn't deserve and creating a hostile work environment.
Kramer was a spokesperson for Maketa as the scandal unfolded in May. Kramer received a $12,000 salary increase as part of his promotion.
Elder said these promotions won't matter when he comes into office in January.
"My staff will be my staff and just because someone is put to a commander's level does not guarantee those people will maintain those positions after I take office," said Elder.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office policy said, "It is the policy of the Sheriff's Office to inform the community, through the news media, of events which involve the Sheriff's Office and its members. A cooperative climate in which the media may obtain information of public interest shall be maintained."
In an email sent to KRDO Newschannel 13, and local news media, White said no one from the office, including Maketa, would do an interview with KRDO.