To the Editor:
Wow! $75,000 over-budget. The Emergency Operations Center made $75,000 of unauthorized expenditures. Department heads are responsible for knowing the details of their approved budget, and any restrictions placed on it. In this case, no purchases over $200 were allowed without the court's approval. Apparently the requests for these purchases never came before the court. Commissioner Sam Palmer, Sheriff Palmer's brother, is listed as the EOC public information officer. Commissioner Jim Hamsher is listed as the court liaison to the EOC. They are also members of the county Budget Committee. Were they making decisions on additional expenditures outside of court public meetings? These decisions should not be made behind closed doors.
EOC says they have applied for a grant but have not heard yet if they are going to get it. This is gambling with our tax dollars.
Eleven computers? When the pandemic is over, will these be given to the other departments that have been operating for years with antiquated equipment? Former EOC Incident Commander Dave Dobler is one of Sheriff Palmer's deputies. Will Sheriff Palmer now claim all the purchases belong to his department? And why were Jim and Sam deputized? People are usually deputized to make decisions and act on behalf of the sheriff. Jim and Sam already have authority through the county court to make decisions for the county. I thought the EOC was separate from the sheriff's department. The water here is getting mighty muddy.
We're talking your tax dollars — in a time of austerity. People are on furlough or have lost their jobs. Income tax dollars are not coming into the state coffers as anticipated. Oregon sends some of these monies back to Grant County. There are not going to be as many dollars to share. The county is going to have to make adjustments. And now the county has $75,000 more in bills to pay that were not anticipated. Will the grant, if it comes through, cover all those? The budget of every department in the county will be impacted in one way or another. If services have to be cut, we will be impacted also.