The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office lost nearly $200,000 in state funds after being fined for missing a deadline for paperwork.
Sheriff Jack Serier assured county and city leaders the fine would have no impact, but a potential political rival who once held Serier’s seat was skeptical.
The issue came to light when Vadnais Heights Mayor Bob Fletcher, a former sheriff, asked the Minnesota Department of Revenue about the matter and later raised it with the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners on Monday, compelling Serier to divulge that his office knew of the fine in August.
Serier wrote to commissioners on Monday explaining that his office was eligible to receive $1.9 million from the department of revenue, but instead received $1.7 million because an employee submitted their “police state aid form” late. The money is used to subsidize police pensions.
“The fee assessed will not negatively impact our budget,” Serier said in his e-mail, adding that the seven contract cities his office patrols won’t be affected, either.
The money the sheriff’s office received in October exceeded the $1.6 million the sheriff had anticipated, Serier noted in trying to explain that his office ended up with a $22,076 surplus.
“In essence, he’s saying we don’t need the money anyhow, so it doesn’t matter that we lost it,” said Fletcher, who was critical of Serier’s response. “This has just become a pattern of mismanagement.”
The state told Fletcher it excised a fee of 5 percent for each week the form was late, resulting in a penalty of $191,178. Vadnais Heights contracts for sheriff’s services, and Fletcher has been critical of other issues, including staffing shortages at the jail.
Little Canada Mayor John Keis has confidence in Serier’s claims the suburbs won’t be hurt, but still wants to know why the deadline was missed. The department’s investigation into what it called an “employee error” is ongoing.
Board Chairwoman Victoria Reinhardt told Fletcher in an e-mail Tuesday that commissioners feel “assured” the issue was being addressed, and would not have a negative impact.
Fletcher said he was acting in the best interest of his city, not as a rival to Serier in next year’s election.