MAYVILLE - The cuts proposed to the county Sheriff's Office, if passed, will be devastating, according to Sheriff Joe Gerace.
Released Monday, the tentative 2012 budget cuts 5.4 percent from the department's 2011 funding - for a total decrease of $1,292,755.
In that proposed cut is the equivalent of 20 full-time positions, which Gerace said will eliminate more than two-thirds of the department's road patrol as well as other positions.
"It will impact police services throughout the county," Gerace said. "It will impact the Drug Task Force, our ability to investigate crime and to respond to crime. It may impact our ability to deliver 911 services to the people who use that emergency number."
In addition to road patrols, the proposed cut takes a way a dispatch operator, airport security, navigation officers and the entirety of the sheriff's snowmobile patrols.
For a county which tries to attract tourism through its snowmobile trails, Gerace said, the cut will mean not being able to enforce the laws, apprehend violators or having the ability to protect the people using the trails.
"Snowmobile patrols have been eliminated in this proposal."
Chautauqua County sheriff
"Snowmobile patrols have been eliminated in this proposal. There will be no such services from the Sheriff's Office if this budget is passed as proposed," Gerace said. "I'm going to plead to the legislature to look at this very carefully."
Though released online Monday, Edwards will present his tentative 2012 budget to the full legislature tonight in Mayville.
Likely of more interest to county residents, according to Gerace, is the fact that the proposal cuts a welfare fraud investigator from the department.
"That's the sort of service that people want to have more of, not less," Gerace said. "That position finds fraud, but they cut that welfare fraud investigator from me.
"This is going to be a devastating blow to public safety, and it will be a wonderful day for criminals," Gerace continued. "To provide public safety should be the most critical element of government."