At the final Council session of the legislative season today, Councilman Frank DiCicco announced plans to introduce legislation that would call for a voter referendum on whether to abolish the Sheriff’s Office.
“I think we have a responsibility and obligation to look at what we can do to downsize government,” said DiCicco. The bill is co-sponsored by Councilman Bill Green.
Longtime Sheriff John Green last week announced he would retire before his term ends in January 2012 and said his deputy would take over. The Sheriff's Office - responsible for transporting prisoners, providing security for courtrooms, serving warrants and auctioning real estate to satisfy tax or mortgage debts - is often cited by reformers as one of a series of “row offices” that could be eliminated to improve service and save money.
But after Green's announcement, Democratic party leaders quickly rallied around state Rep. Jewell Williams as their pick for the next sheriff. DiCicco said his fellow Council members will have to figure out what's best for the city.
"We have to look at the longterm financial stability of the city," said DiCicco, who said eliminating the office could save several million dollars a year.
The legislation will be up for discussion during Council hearings in the fall. If passed by Council, DiCicco said it would go on the November ballot with plans to abolish the office in January 2012 if voters approve the measure.