By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting tentatively got his department exempted from the county’s hiring freeze.
The waiver must still receive a majority vote at the County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means session Jan. 28 and the regular meeting Feb. 7.
Sheriff Richard Cutting told the board’s Public Safety Committee that Horace Nye Nursing Home is already exempt from the hiring freeze and that he wants his department to be, too.
With the freeze on, department heads need board approval to fill vacancies.
“I’m asking to be considered in the same class as Horace Nye, as far as hiring goes,” Cutting said. “If I lose an officer, technically, I would have to wait a month for the next Public Safety (meeting), which could delay hiring for six weeks.”
He said that creates an overtime situation, since there’s also a training program for correction officers at the County Jail.
“That could be up to 12 (weeks wait). If I’m short, I don’t operate empty; I bring someone in on overtime.” Cutting said.
He said the exemption would be for jail staff and deputies only, not clerical, maintenance or food-service workers in his department.
Cutting said he has 67 full-time correction and deputy posts and is down four people now.
“We’re talking mandated security positions only,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “Try to recruit some part-time people for transports.”
Cutting said he’s looking at hiring some three-day-a-week part-timers for inmate transports to see what it would save.
Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) said retired state troopers or sheriff’s deputies could easily be used as part-timers for inmate transports.
“It would save us a substantial amount of money,” he said.
Cutting said one problem is that law-enforcement certification lasts only two years after retirement.
He said there’s a six-week training academy for jail staff, but he may try it two days a week instead of six straight weeks, so they can work while being trained.
Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) was the only supervisor to vote against exempting the sheriff from the hiring freeze.
“We approve these things; it looks good on paper, but it comes back to haunt us,” he said.
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