PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Tillamook County’s latest budget proposal would remove funding for six unfilled sheriff’s office positions after the county reported that 11 positions have remained unfilled for three years.

Sheriff Josh Brown says his office is putting in thousands of hours of overtime, and the proposed cuts – if approved – could hurt morale.

“We had a hiring event at the beginning of the year, and out of that, we had 12 qualified candidates in the process,” Brown said. “We have not had that many candidates in years.”

The sheriff said he worked with another commissioner to create a plan that would cover the cost through the Courthouse Annex project.

Meanwhile, Tillamook County Chair Erin Skaar said that the project would help the county comply with a state mandate, adding that if Sheriff Brown comes up with the candidates, he’s likely to get the money with the proposed budget.

“He comes before us, he makes his case, I do not see a situation in front of us where we would say no except if our timber revenue doesn’t show up,” Skaar said. “I would like Tillamook County residents to know that we are not reducing the number of deputies on the road, we are not reducing the number of corrections deputies in the jail, the sheriff has been operating at this staffing level for eight years and while the staffing level is not adequate it is not a reduction from what you see today.”

There will be a second public budget hearing meeting Wednesday.

Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.