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April 29, 2014

Jail staffing spikes overtime costs

MALONE — Franklin County spent more than $93,000 on overtime to staff the County Jail for the first three months of 2014.

And the cost will continue to build as the Sheriff’s Department goes through Civil Service steps for the next five months to fill open positions.

But even when the vacancies are filled, the county will not be in compliance with a State Commission of Correction directive to have a minimum of 67 full-time-equivalent security staff at the jail.

The facility had 59 full-time equivalents as of April 21.

OVERTIME ISSUES

“The county is reluctant to come into compliance because the county manager (Thomas Leitz) feels we have been given enough staff where we should have saved on overtime,” said Undersheriff Patrick White.

“But we can’t reduce overtime if we don’t have the people,” he said.

Per diems are called when a regular staff person uses a personal or sick day or is on vacation or in training or has a regular day off.

The jail has 10 posts that must be covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so having enough people to assign to them is tough enough during the anticipated days off.

Jail officials said that scheduling and filling such posts gets even harder when vacancies exist on a staff already below the commission’s recommended levels.

The county spent a combined $93,259 on jail overtime during January, February and March, according to the Treasurer’s Office.

STRAIN ON BUDGET

But County Legislature Chairman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) said the county can’t afford to hire extra bodies.

“We really can’t do it without increasing the budget,” he said. “If somebody comes up with a way for us to hire eight people and not use the county budget, I’d love hear it. But I just don’t see how we can do it.”

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