UPDATE 12/31/13 @ 5:15 p.m.
FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Floyd County Sheriff John Blackburn says he has no other choice but to make drastic changes to his department.
"It just saddens me," Blackburn said. "I can't believe the Fiscal Court would do something like this to cut out law enforcement."
Blackburn said the Fiscal Court slashed his budget nearly in half due to the county's $400,000 shortfall. So to make up for the loss, Blackburn is making big changes.
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 1, the Floyd County Sheriff's Department will close at 4 p.m. Blackburn says that means no patrols and no dispatchers at night. He says if citizens have an emergency at night, they'll have to call 911 and wait for Kentucky State Police to respond.
"It worries me very much," Sheriff Blackburn. "Crime is getting to be worse. There's not a night goes by or day goes by that we (don't) have to work burglaries, car wrecks, domestic violence. Crime goes on all night and all day."
Blackburn said his department is already feeling the budget cuts. In fact, he has he had to lay off seven employees, and could have to make more cuts in the near future.
Under the Fiscal Court's new plan, the Sheriff's Department and County Clerk would be responsible for covering their employees' health insurance and retirement plans, as well as utilities and $20,000 a year for rent at the courthouse.
"It feels like they're just picking on me," Blackburn said. "They make me pay the phone bills, the utilities, the rent on my office, workers comp, liability insurance.There's no way I have that money when I have to borrow money just to make payroll."
WSAZ.com spoke with Kentucky State Police troopers in Pikeville. They say they will continue to cover Floyd County, just as they always have. Troopers don't expect the changes with Floyd County's Sheriff's Department to affect them too much, other than taking a few more calls at night.
WSAZ.com tried to contact members of the Floyd County Fiscal Court. The building was closed due to the New Years Holiday. We have yet to hear back, but will continue to work to get their response.
That's according to a press release by Sheriff John Blackburn, who said the cutbacks will be made because of his budget being cut nearly in half by the Floyd County Fiscal Court.
Earlier this month, the court learned that it is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. State officials have warned of a possible takeover if its financial problems aren't corrected soon.
According to Sheriff Blackburn, the court will no longer pay for things like health insurance, retirement, workers compensation, or liability insurance for his office.
The sheriff said the upcoming cutbacks will impact emergency services.
WSAZ.com contacted the Floyd County Sheriff's Office early Tuesday morning and learned that, as of the start of 2014, emergency calls made between 4 p.m. and the following morning will be routed to dispatchers in Pike County, Ky.
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