Facing budget cuts, Walla Walla Co. Sheriff urges county to reopen businesses

Walla Walla County Sheriff Mark Crider

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — The Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office is urging county commissioners to begin reopening businesses, as they prepare for a budget cut that could leave large gaps in deputy patrols.

Sheriff Mark Crider says in a release that, thanks to Walla Walla residents’ efforts in social distancing, the county only has 44 cases of COVID-19.

Crider says, with that, that it is now time to get businesses open again.

Additionally, he says the Sheriff’s Office has now been instructed by the county commissioners to make a 5-percent cut from their budget—equating to around $230,000 of a $4.6 million budget. Crider says that after payroll, benefits and professional services, that leaves only $188,059 left in their budget.

“When you look at the numbers, that can only mean one thing,” says Crider, “We are going to have to cut manpower by reducing their hours or cut positions.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, they have been covering all 1,300 square miles of the county with a team of three deputies per shift; Crider says that with the 5-percent budget cut, he will be forced to cut back 16-20 hours of coverage a day.

“I believe the citizens of Walla Walla want and deserve a certain level of safety and security that we strive to maintain every day,” says Crider, “We are currently operating on a razor’s edge budget and any further reduction in our funding will undoubtedly result in the erosion of the quality of service the citizens of Walla Walla have come to expect.”

As the Sheriff’s Office is largely funded by sales tax, Crider says it is “imperative that we get Walla Walla County businesses back up and running.”

Crider encourages the county commissioners to follow the lead of Benton and Franklin counties, and for residents to “voice their opinion” to local officials.