Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

February 26, 2014

Sheriff has plan for tax money — Garvin County’s sheriff department has a plan ready to go if voters give the thumbs up to a countywide sales tax on the ballot for renewal on March 4.

The sheriff’s office again has money earmarked, exactly one quarter, from a half cent tax first approved by voters back in 2007.

With this upcoming election the measure again asks voters to support the tax for another seven years.

Sheriff Larry Rhodes says if that happens he has a specific plan for what that money will be used for over the next few years.

“There’s a laundry list of major expenses in the jail that money would be used for,” Rhodes said.

If the tax proposal is approved by voters Rhodes said there are seven specific projects being looked at for the jail and the sheriff’s office in general.

One would be the replacement of the jail’s emergency generator. The current generator simply isn’t functional, he said.

A big project would be to replace the existing plumbing in the jail. That would include all new pipes and lines.

According to the sheriff, that’s important because of the high costs of plumbing repairs now needed on a regular basis. Those costs now fall into the range of a $1,000 a month.

Another kitchen related project needed is to bring better heating and ventilation to the pantry area as a way to improve food storage and preparation.

Then there’s some projects more on the law enforcement side.

One of those would be to replace all radios in vehicles. The current ones are at least a decade old, Rhodes said.

A fifth project would be a more comprehensive plan for the replacement of patrol vehicles.

“We need to put a plan in place where we can replace vehicles, at least two every years,” he said with a reference to current patrol cars in the range of 200,000 miles.

“That would benefit our budget and it goes directly to officer safety.”

Another is to increase the salaries and benefits of the county deputies working here in Garvin County.

The sheriff says it’s eye-popping how low those salaries are right now.

“My deputies make less than the janitor at the courthouse,” Rhodes said.

“We want to get their regular salaries up. We never pay these guys what they’re worth. This is a calling for them.”

The seventh of the projects listed out by the sheriff is to add two additional deputies to the current number of six, who are responsible for the shifts needed to cover the county 24 hours, seven days a week.

One thing Rhodes wants to make clear is some comments by others about the number of deputies being cut if the tax isn’t renewed simply is not true.

Without the tax money he admits it would be more difficult, but the number of deputies in the sheriff’s office won’t go down.

“That’s not going to happen on our watch,” he said. “We’ve gained so much ground in this office.

“I’m not going to use scare tactics on this sales tax. We would have to cut programs like Crime Stoppers or D.A.R.E. if we don’t have the tax.

“It would definitely affect our services and the operation of this office, but cutting back on positions would be a last resort.”

The good news is Rhodes says be believes there’s a lot of support out there for the sheriff’s office here.

“The feedback I’ve been hearing is people support this office,” he added.

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