BUTTE, Mont. -

Powell County is laying off two sheriff's deputies over funding issues, leaving the sheriff and two others to patrol a rural area the size of Delaware.
  
Sheriff Scott Howard tells The Montana Standard that uncertainties over federal funding combined and voters' recent rejection of a mill levy increase led to the layoffs.
    
He says if the department gets two calls at the same time, he'll have to decide which case is the priority.
    
County commissioners voted to cut the sheriff's budget last week because federal funding through the Secure Rural Schools Act hasn't come through, and may not. The county could only use that money for roads and relied on payments in lieu of taxes on federal lands to fund law enforcement and other expenses. Now some of the PILT money is needed for roads.