County floating STING funds for officer wages, will be reimbursed
ARENAC COUNTY — Until the American Recovery and Reinvestment funds are distributed to Arenac County from the state of Michigan to pay for a full time Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group officer, Arenac County will provide monies for the position’s wages.
“We’ve got to put some money in there because there’s an officer already working,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Raymond Daniels. “We’re just loaning them enough money to pay the bills then we’ll get reimbursed when that grant money comes in.”
Funds from the approximately $146,000 stimulus package grant to once again implement STING in Arenac County for two years, Daniels told the Independent, includes a vehicle, fuel and insurance for the drug enforcement program.
However, County Commissioner Joseph Sancimino said that despite the inclusiveness of the federal grant, he believes the program will still cost Arenac County money.
“In fact, we have spent money,” he said. He added that an SUV confiscated by the sheriff’s office in a drug bust earlier this year was supposed to serve as the STING vehicle, so the sheriff’s office paid about $1,100 to repair it. Now, Sancimino said, the sheriff’s department is selling the vehicle online. But if it doesn’t sell, he added, the county would be out of that $1,100. An auction held locally would be a better alternative to sell the truck, he also added.
“I have real concerns and skepticism when it comes to that program,” Sancimino said.
“It’s kind of a controversial thing, no doubt,” Daniels added.
Michigan State Police Lieutenant Jeff Keister, who oversees STING, said that the reimbursement method of funding it is common practice for the other participating counties, adding the counties are usually reimbursed for the fourth quarter (STING started in Arenac County in October) around the first of the following year.
“Ogemaw does it. Crawford, Roscommon, Oscoda Township, they wait generally till the first of the year,” Keister said. “It’s only just because of the delay in the grant administering process.”
Due to the influx of grants received by agencies throughout Michigan from to the ARRA, Keister said there is a risk of a greater delay. But, he added, the system for distributing the grant funds is being switched to an electronic method, which he hopes will get the funds to the local law enforcement units quicker than in the past.
The Board of Commissioners approved the STING funding at its Dec. 22 meeting.
Arenac County Sheriff James Mosciski said the STING officer working in Arenac County was a county deputy who was promoted, which opened up a deputy position in the county that was filled, creating one new job in the county.
STING covers Arenac, Iosco, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Roscommon and Crawford counties.