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Local News

June 14, 2013

Essex County Sheriff aims to reduce jail overtime

ELIZABETHTOWN — Hiring two entry-level correction officers instead of replacing a retiring lieutenant is expected to save Essex County Jail 687 hours of overtime over six months.

Annual salary and benefits for County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Thomas Cross totaled $108,768, Sheriff Richard Cutting told the County Board of Supervisors at a recent meeting.

Replacing his position with two new correction officers would cost $114,256, which is $5,488 more than Cross makes, Cutting said, but comes with a potential six-month savings of $18,336 for 687 hours of overtime.

The new officers would reduce understaffing at the jail that otherwise requires overtime to cover, he said.

HIRING FROM TESTS

Cutting appeared before county lawmakers to present his plan, and it was ultimately approved, 16-1, with Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) opposed and Supervisor George Canon (R-Newcomb) absent.

The new correction officers will be hired provisionally from a list of 70 applicants who took the State Civil Service test for the job, Cutting said. Results of that test are expected eight to 10 weeks from the April test date.

“We don’t have anybody lined up for these,” he said.

The new officers will each receive a salary of $33,258 a year plus benefits.

Cross, who has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 28 years, will become a part-time security guard at the Essex County Department of Social Services following his retirement.

WILLING TO WORK

Although most supervisors voted for Cutting’s request, it at first appeared controversial, with some questioning why it bypassed the county’s Public Safety Committee and others asking why Cross worked so much overtime himself: 390 hours in the last six months.

“That bothers me a little bit,” Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said. “He (Cross) got paid over two hours a day in overtime, which to me seems excessive. You’re building that number into this analysis.”

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