Montcalm County Sheriff Dept.
STANTON, Mich. (WZZM) - Beginning today, the Montcalm County Sheriff's Patrol will not be on duty 24 hours a day.
According to Sheriff William Barnwell, this is due to a budget deficit in Montcalm County's general fund of $733,000. The cuts went into effect at midnight and resulted in about $345,000 being cut from the sheriff's budget.
Barnwell says the last time the staff was this small was back in the late 60's. On some shifts there are only one or two deputies on duty. Now, at some points during the day or night, there could be none.
At RJ's Sports Bar in Sheridan, the main hours of operation are often at night. Owner Roman Noah is afraid that the Montcalm County Sheriff's Department won't be able to respond if he needs help.
"If you make a call, nobody's there? Will we have to take matters into our own hands? What are we supposed to do?"
"There comes a time. You can only do so much," says Barnwell. He doesn't like the idea of cutting what amounts to an entire shift. He had to lay-off five deputies. Now, the staff that remains will patrol the county at various times. He doesn't want to say which shifts will be left open. "We're going to be working with our partner the Michigan State Police and local government. Believe me, it's gonna be a thin line out there. Much less than it was before."
The county had hoped to pass a millage back in February, but voters turned it down by just over 100 hundred votes. This November, they're trying it again. Barnwell says they aren't "crying wolf" by implementing the changes now. He says the new budget starts in October and they had to make the cuts.
The November ballot will ask residents to approve a .6 mill. That means the average homeowner with a $100,000 property value, would pay about $60 dollars a year.
If approved, it would restore the cuts and help maintain 24-hour patrols. The 0.6 mill proposal would generate about $971,000 per year for two years, according to the Sheriff.