Alamance County, NC -- Revenue shortfalls are making for some tough decisions as local governments discuss their next fiscal year budgets.
First it was the town of King cutting 20 percent of its police force and now it is Alamance County thinking about cutting the security budget at the county courthouse.
The county was facing $12 million in a budget gap. They've managed to reduce it to $4 million which they hope to balance by June 30th.
It is that shortfall, however, that's causing commissioners to discuss the security at the local courthouses. The question is, can taxpayers afford to continue to pay thousands of dollars for courthouse security?
For the past five years, the county has paid an outside security company $200,000 a year to run the metal detectors, check for guns, knives, pepper spray and anything that could pose a safety threat to people inside the courthouses.
Commissioners want to do away with those contract security workers and replace them with deputies.
The sheriff, Terry Johnson, says he could provide security using detention officers from the jailhouse.
He tells News 2 that the jail population is down anyway - which added to the county budget gap - so instead of cutting jobs they'll use some of the detention officers to make this work.
Johnson says he's willing to help the county but the move is going to really "push" the department.
"It may mean the sheriff having to go over there a day and standing out or captains but we're going to do what's necessary to help the commissioners out," Johnson said.
When asked if taxpayers would be better served using those deputies on the streets - going after criminals and protecting the community, Sheriff Johnson says patrol is already taken care of and this move won't compromise any of that.
"I'm certainly not going to put citizens at risk, or any of my employees at extreme risk," he said.
Tom Manning, the County Board Chairman adds that deputies already work as bailiffs in the courtroom and will be available to help outside the courthouse on days where there are no proceedings scheduled.
"We do not want to sacrifice the safety of the citizens of Alamance County and this move will not create any jeopardy in that area."
Manning says if it really gets to the point where they need to take deputies off the streets to fill the positions they'll revisit the plan and make sure that doesn't happen.
According to Sheriff Johnson, commissioners have already made their decision on this move and he's already getting deputies trained.
The commission is holding a public hearing this coming Monday on the full budget before the final vote.
WFMY News 2