A discussion Tuesday about how the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office spends budgeted funds led to an exchange between the County

A discussion Tuesday about how the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office spends budgeted funds led to an exchange between the County Commission chairman and sheriff that became heated.

At one point, Sheriff Andy Dedeke walked out of the meeting.

“The conversation was going down hill pretty rapidly,” Dedeke said after the meeting.

Dedeke said he saw no purpose in remaining at the meeting and verbally sparring with Commission Chairman Louis Klemp.

During the meeting, Klemp proposed requiring the Sheriff’s Office to use a pay plan that is utilized by other departments in the county government. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office uses its own pay plan.

“I don’t think he needs his own pay plan,” Klemp said.

The Sheriff’s Office pay plan was approved in 2016. Klemp was not on the commission at that time.

Klemp also proposed moving unspent money budgeted by the county for unfilled positions and fuel purchases from individual department budgets into a general fund.

Klemp expressed concern that an elected official, such as the sheriff, can spend money within his approved budget however he sees fit.

“We approve that budget, and he can do anything he wants,” Klemp said.

Klemp said he wanted to take control of funds that can potentially be used for other things that would not be appropriate.

No action was taken regarding Klemp’s proposal.

Dedeke said the money budgeted for vacant positions in the Sheriff’s Office is never used for anything other than personnel expenses.

Dedeke said he usually would agree that what is good for one office is good for the others in county government. But he does not believe this to be the case when it comes to the pay plan.

He said wages for deputies need to be competitive.

Dedeke said there are not many people who want to take on the duties of a deputy.

“This plan has been very beneficial,” he said.

Dedeke said the Sheriff’s Office is a large department, and it always will have turnover.

Commissioner Doug Smith asked Klemp if he was proposing to temporarily remove money for vacant positions but restore the funding when the positions are filled.

Klemp suggested the head of a department can come to the commission when filling a vacant position.

Dedeke said the Kansas Legislature recognizes the unique position of sheriff. He said state law gives the sheriff the power to hire, fire, promote and demote people within the Sheriff’s Office.

“Let’s see you fire your brother and your wife,” Klemp said.

Dedeke's brother, Jeff, works for the Sheriff’s Office as chief deputy. Dedeke’s wife, Wendy, serves as communications director for the Sheriff’s Office.

Dedeke said his wife has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for many years and she was promoted to her current position by a previous sheriff.

Dedeke said he does not hide the fact that his brother works for the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s on our website,” he said.

At one point, Klemp read what he said are the salaries of Dedeke, the sheriff’s brother and the sheriff’s wife.

Dedeke said the figures cited by Klemp include the cost of benefits as well as salaries.

Dedeke said he appreciates the concern about possible mismanagement of funds. But Dedeke said his office has integrity.

Klemp asked if there was a consensus among the commissioners to look into what he was proposing.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said he could look into a policy that would remove the budget authority for funds for a position that has remained unfilled for six months.

Loughry said the issue of funding for fuel purchases already is being addressed in the proposed budget for 2019. He said funding for fuel for all departments will appear as a single line item in a general fund.

Commissioner Bob Holland said he voted for the Sheriff’s Office pay plan. Holland said he sees no reason for changing the pay plan.

“He runs a very tight ship over there,” Holland said of the sheriff.

Dedeke left the meeting after Klemp would not allow the sheriff to finish an explanation regarding how money is budgeted for fuel purchases. Klemp said he did not want to hear the sheriff finish.

“Well, then we’re done,” Dedeke said.

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