By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — In a move aimed at saving money, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department may actually be adding bodies.
The Clinton County Legislature’s Finance Committee agreed this week to vote on hiring six new part-time deputies, specifically to cover mandated duty at Plattsburgh International Airport.
It would save money by utilizing the lower-paid part-timers instead of higher-paid full-time deputies on overtime, Sheriff David Favro told the Press-Republican.
“We won’t be paying the higher salary plus the full-time benefits, and we think this is a way to save money,” he said.
By federal law, the county is required to have a law-enforcement presence at the airport 30 minutes before any flight leaving, as passengers make their way through Transportation Safety Administration screenings.
It is also needed when flights arrive at the same time that others are preparing to board. This often happens late at night or early in the morning.
“With flights coming in and some leaving, there could 300 or 400 people there at one time, and then it becomes a matter of public safety, and we need a presence there,” Favro said.
‘LESS OVERTIME COST’
To fulfill the duties, regular full-time deputies are often asked to work overtime to cover the airport shifts, which can be anywhere from three to nine hours at a time.
The county spent about $85,000 in overtime at the airport last year, and Favro said he hopes to save between $20,000 and $25,000 by using part-time deputies.
He said he is looking to hire retired law-enforcement people to fill the slots.
“If you hire someone who has retired within two years, you don’t have to train them or certify them,” he said.
The part-timers would be paid $17 per hour with no benefits.
Full-time deputies can get as much as $36 per hour on overtime.
“This is one of the costs that is incurred as the airport grows,” Finance Committee Chairwoman Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh) said, “and this is one way of looking to save money.”
While the legislature unanimously agreed to move the item to a vote at next week’s regular meeting, one legislator did so reluctantly.
“At some point, this body has to take a look at stopping such growth of departments because the revenue is just not there,” Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said.
The session takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Legislative Chambers on the second floor of the Clinton County Government Center, 137 Margaret St., Plattsburgh. It is open to the public.
Email Joe LoTemplio: firstname.lastname@example.org