Winnebago County Board agrees to settlement in lawsuit with Sheriff

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) – Winnebago County Board members agree to settlement terms in a lawsuit filed by Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.

Both sides came to a tentative agreement two weeks ago. Thursday night, the Winnebago County Board approved a settlement that includes a $1.7 million budget amendment. It ends the lawsuit that Sheriff Gary Caruana filed in march of this year.

“That’s good progress before we start our next fiscal cycle,” said 12 District Winnebago County Board member, Jaime Salgado. “So, it just brings closure to this and hopefully, you know, this can be prevented moving forward.”

The dispute between Caruana and the county board started in 2017 when the board asked the Sheriff cut over $4 million from his budget. The $1.7 million agreed to in the settlement will go towards 24 deputies, Whose salaries have been on the Sheriff’s payroll, despite being unfunded. Finance Committee Chairman Jaime Salgado says it was important to the board that the deputies stay on.

“We asked them not to fire or give pink slips to the deputies, cause we thought it was a big concern for public safety, for our community, and Winnebago County,” Salgado said.

But, money is a consideration.

“Ultimately, we were in anticipation of potentially budget cuts that were being done to prevent the firings of those families and those police officers,” Salgado said.

Salgado says that now, there are other important issues the county board can focus on, like the budget for fiscal year 2020, and filling important positions on the board.

“It’s one of those things we check off our list to move forward and focus on what are the bigger items, which is the budget, and trying to find a structure for the county administrator, and the right candidate for that job, both in HR, as well as that county administrator,” Salgado said.

The settlement and budget amendment will have no effect on the baseline talks for the fiscal year 2020.

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