Letters To The Editor - Let's look at Sheriff's Office budget


To help explain one aspect of county government accounting, I liken the current fund to your checking account and the reserve accounts your savings accounts. County resolutions move money back and forth from the checking account to the savings account because funds left in the checking account look like excess funds to us taxpayers.

Likewise if there are more expenses, a county resolution can move money from a savings account back to the checking account so there are no budget deficits. Annual budgets include planned transfers to or from savings depending on the budget needs.

The Sheriff's Office has spent significant time this year reviewing all of its operations to find better and less-expensive ways to operate. An example is the medical expenses of jail inmates.

The practice now includes trying to collect these medical expenses from the primary insurance company before the Sheriff's Office pays the bill. In addition, rather than paying the full uninsured fee schedule for medical services, the Sheriff's Office recently signed an agreement for a 50 percent reduced fee for all medical services from Providence. These new policies and contracts are saving our county significant money now and in the future.

At year-end 2011 there were medical expenses for inmates that were incurred. However, the Sheriff's Office had reason to believe these expenses would be fully paid by private insurance according to the medical vendor. These unpaid 2011 medical bills were entered for payment in 2012 and paid by the county when it was determined that private insurance was not going to pay.

The County Auditor's Office determined that those bills paid in 2012 should be accrued back to 2011. This created the $19,000 deficit to the Sheriff's Office current expense fund budget. The Law and Justice Fund had budget capacity in 2011 to cover these medical costs.

Nothing in life is ever as simple as you would like it to be, or as complicated as others would like it to appear.

In my opinion the recent headlines and articles have been incomplete and have the appearance of intentionally misleading the public.

Debora L Zalaznik

Walla Walla


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