Letter: Collaboration needed in budgeting process

From: Matthew A. Myers, Bartholomew County sheriff


I entered the 2016 budgeting process, my first since being elected sheriff, so very proud of what members of my agency had accomplished in such a short period of time. What I found was a county government in a serious budget crunch, a situation that apparently has become a regular and all-too-familiar part of the county’s budgeting process in recent years.

Even so, County Commissioners, County Council members and other elected officials should have been able to maintain a more positive relationship by understanding and respecting one another. Frankly, I found the atmosphere to be unproductive.

In fact, I felt as if I had stepped back in time. The mood was somber, and we were told, even before we had an opportunity to make our presentations, that it was financially impossible for even some basic requests to be met.

I quickly realized that for far too long, county officials have not made investing in people or infrastructure a priority. I don’t know why, but I do know that neither will be achieved until everyone stops pointing fingers and takes ownership of this situation. We will not move forward until this happens.

Collaboration also appeared to be absent from the process. I understand that we might not always agree, but we must work together for the success of Bartholomew County.

My priorities for this budget were to reward hard work by providing a salary increase for sheriff’s department employees and to obtain some of the basic equipment and infrastructure needed for a 21st century public safety agency.

My goal is not to point fingers or assign blame but to encourage all of us to learn from this year’s process. It is only by understanding what did not work this year that we can ensure a better, more successful process next time. Working together, we can make Bartholomew County the strongest county in the state of Indiana.