Though Wisconsin counties and municipalities collectively deployed hundreds of law enforcement officers in March to help secure the Capitol during protests over Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, they have yet to be reimbursed by the state for their efforts.
Administration of the Vilas County Sheriff's Department reported deploying four to five deputies to the Capitol on three separate occasions during that time, with associated costs of about $27,000.
The expenses include those for labor, mileage and lodging.
"Our budget took a hit," sheriff Frank Tomlanovich told members of the Law Enforcement and Emergency Management Committee Thursday.
In addition to incurring extra costs, Tomlanovich said having the 20-person staff cut by 25 percent at that time meant longer hours for officers staying behind in Vilas County.
Oneida County sheriff Jeff Hoffman said his department dispatched 12 officers to help secure the Capitol for a total of 13 days and with expenses of about $30,000.
Though yet to be dispensed, secretary Mike Huebsch of the Department of Administration reaffirmed that local enforcement units will be reimbursed for their efforts.
"Local enforcement units will be reimbursed for the actual, necessary and reasonable costs associated with mutual aid provided at the State Capitol," Huebsch said in a letter to the Badger State Sheriff's Association late last month.
"While [the] DOA will reimburse local law enforcement for all of their legitimate costs, the reimbursements will not occur until the next state fiscal year [beginning July 1, 2011]."
Huebsch said each claim must be audited before reimbursements can be made, and the DOA anticipates concluding those audits by mid-August.
"My understanding is we will probably get them the latter part of August," Hoffman said.
With more recent protests cropping up over the proposed biennial budget, Tomlanovich said local enforcement agencies may once again be called upon to help secure the Capitol.
"The EPS [Emergency Police Services] director for this area notified the local counties or the area counties that we can anticipate another mutual aid request later this month. Whether or not that is going to come, I don't know," Tomlanovich said.
However, the sheriff said even if mutual aid at the Capitol were requested, Vilas may not be able to spare the resources this time.
"Even sending 4-5 people down there at that time stretched us," he said.
"Now that we're in the busy season, we may not have the resources to respond."
Committee member Bob Egan said he thinks serving the needs of the county should be the department's first priority.
"What's going to govern my decision on whether or not to respond is what our situation is up here," Tomlanovich said.
"If we have the people, I'd be more than happy to send them down, but we have to take a look at our own situation first."
Laurel Carlson may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.