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Budget Cut to Sheriff's Office Sparks Concerns in Starr Co.

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RIO GRANDE CITY – Starr County residents are speaking out about the budget cuts to the sheriff's office.

In a two-to-five decision, county commissioners approved a $400,000 cut to the sheriff's office. Starr County Sheriff Rene Fuentes said county security will take a hit.

Fabian Zamora owns a welding business in the small town of Las Lomas, located outside of Rio Grande City. He said he knows his business sits in the hub of crime in the county.

"This community, there's a lot of bad people,” he said. "This is not a very peaceful neighborhood, you know, so they need to be around here more often.”

The Starr County Sheriff's Office said they’re working with fewer resources on the streets and there is no replacing it.

The cut to their budget includes $100,000 in fuel. Fuentes said they’re now left to work with $50,000 to fill up tanks for a year. He said the sheriff's office use up that amount in three months’ time.

Fuentes said the cuts will impact the safety of the county.

"We need to be safe. I think they should get more police officers and no just cut them," Zamora said.

Zamora said he fears what the cuts in patrols will mean; not only for his community but for his business.

"I would say it’s not a good idea. I'm going to have to get some cameras if they're not going to be around," Zamora said.

Starr County Commissioner Eloy Garza voted for the budget cuts. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS Friday that the sheriff has enough resources. He said Border Patrol and DPS will help secure the area.

"It got a little bit better when DPS got here because there were a lot of troopers around the area," Zamora said. "But I see most of them, some of them left already."

Zamora is right. The state ended DPS trooper rotations to the Rio Grande Valley, replacing them with trainees.

The 250 new troopers are getting on-the-job training for six months. Once they're fully trained, they'll patrol the border from Brownsville to Laredo.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS still has unanswered questions about the budget cuts to the sheriff's office, including the reason behind the cuts.

We're waiting to hear back from the sheriff and judge.

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