PERRY COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - On Wednesday, Perry County, Illinois Sheriff Steve Bareis shared with the public the $534,000 cut to his department with the passing of the amended budget.
This comes after a special board meeting on Monday, May 13 where the County Board received the recommended $1.1 million dollar budget cut from a third party consulting firm, Bellwether Advantage. That cut will be displayed for 15 days and voted on in two weeks.
Bareis handed the letters to 14 members of his staff on Wednesday, May 15. The cuts consist of seven part time and seven full time employees. That’s nearly half of the department, leaving the office with 19 on staff - six patrol officers, seven jail officers, four dispatch and two administrators.
“It hurts to have to lay people off. In a small department like we are, we are more like family than we are anything else," Bareis said with a heavy heart.
The sheriff said it felt like terminating a friendship.
“Perry County has been on a path for years that lead to this destination. There is no sense in assigning blame. Blame is every where. We can not undo the past. We have to be part of the solution," he wrote in a post on Facebook.
The sheriff’s office services small rural towns like Tamaroa and Cutler who do not have their own police departments.
Tamaroa business owner Curtis Strube is also the Village President.
“We are without patrol or in the event of an emergency, I guess we can get the state police in and they could help," he said.
Up the street at Tamaroa Grade School was retired librarian Pam Urban. She lives in Du Quoin but substitutes teaches in Tamaroa. Urban said she is concerned and believes this will be difficult for everyone involved.
“There’s always a concern, yes. And when you cut back there’s a greater concern that’s true,” she said.
Strube understands this was not an easy decision for the county, but he said it will definitely affect people across the county.
Sheriff Bareis said his temporary solution is to get volunteer auxiliary officers to ride-along with those officers on duty, and also use body cameras.
According to the county treasurer, the official vote for that recommended budget currently on display will take place in two weeks on May 28.
“All I could do now is try and look at solution of what to moving forward and trying to rebuild," said Bareis.