Clay County commission appeals judge’s order to restore nearly $1M to sheriff’s budget

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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – There’s another legal battle within the Clay County government.

The county commission is fighting to uphold its decision to slash the sheriff’s budget.

In a series of two to one votes, the commission cut the Clay County Sheriff’s Office budget by well more than half over the last couple years.

In April, Sheriff Paul Vescovo sued the commission, saying they cut his funding because he investigated a criminal case involving a county employee charged with tampering with legal documents. In the lawsuit, the sheriff said he’s $2 million short of what he needs to run the department.

He said Friday he has to provide healthcare and food for inmates in the Clay County jail. He said those vendors haven`t been paid since June.

He feels he had no choice but to sue in order to pay the bills.

Last week, a judge ruled those budget cuts were retaliation. He ordered the commission to restore nearly $1 million.

So here`s what’s new: Commissioners Luanne Ridgeway and Gene Owen are not OK with that. In fact, they’re appealing what the judge ruled.

An attorney for Ridgeway and Owen called the sheriff’s lawsuit “expensive and unnecessary” and said “the appeal will cost less than 5% of the legal expenses” caused by the sheriff’s original lawsuit.

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