EATON — On Monday, July 15 the Preble County Board of Commissioners will be voting on whether to fund the employment of a new sheriff’s deputy and additional corrections officer.
Commissioner Rodney Creech proposed the additional two positions during the board’s meeting on Wednesday, July 10.
He has proposed the same to the board in the past, but Commissioner Denise Robertson and Commissioner Chris Day have voted against the motion.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Creech presented a spreadsheet with budget information and two letters from Sheriff Mike Simpson dated Oct. 15.
The first letter from Simpson reads, “As part of my budget meeting for FY19, I am requesting the board to formally consider an additional Deputy Sheriff assigned to road patrol. Outlined below are the base costs associated with the hiring of an additional deputy:
•Salary — $44,439
•PERS — $8,043.49
•Medicare — $645
•Health Insurance — $18,511.20
“Current staffing levels for 24/7 patrol are a total of nine deputies, with two deputies working each shift, covering 425 square miles. This level of staffing has been in place since budget reductions in 2009, which caused lay-offs. The minimum staffing has gone on for 10 years and we are seeing the effects of it,” the letter noted.
The second letter reads, “As part of my budget meeting for FY19, I am requesting the board to formally consider an additional corrections officer assigned to the jail. Outlined below are the base costs associated with the hiring of an additional corrections officer:
•Salary — $35,878.60
•PERS — $5,023
•Medicare — $521
•Health Insurance — $18,511.20
“Current staffing levels have the jail operating at minimum staff, four corrections officers, on a majority of days on all shifts. This is especially so on midnights,” the letter noted.
According to Creech, between Sheriff Simpson and Chief Spitler working the roads, the PCSO has saved $7,842 in overtime. With additional staffing on the road, they expect to save $28,214.50 in overtime in just six months.
“Back at the beginning of the year, we talked about waiting until after the budget and seeing where we were with the budget. The 911 Dispatch Merger, everything went well, no additional costs over and above the budget. The 9-1-1 dispatch merger is going well, the jail renovations went well. It looks like our capital improvements are going to be well within what we thought,” he said. “When I’m sitting here looking at our current budget, our revenues versus expenditures, right now, in the middle of the year, we are three quarters of a million dollars over last year.
“It is in our best interest in our county [to add these two positions]. If the year continues as it is, we are going to be a million and a half dollars to the good and we are asking for $160,000 to protect the constituents of Preble County. I don’t know why we are collecting tax dollars and not reinvesting them into the county. That is what people pay taxes for, why are we not doing that? That is my question.”
Commissioner Robertson countered, there have been issues with the sheriff’s budget this year and he was going to be short for payroll, but he was able to move around funds and cover payroll. If there is “fluff” in the sheriff’s budget, then he should be able to help cover these two additional positions, she said.
“He has more money in his budget, he has some fluff in there, let’s get a little leaner and lets make room for another deputy,” she said.
Commissioner Creech said, he would bring the issue back up on Monday, July 15, and wanted to have a vote on the issue.
“I have yet to run into anyone in this county who thinks we have adequate staffing,” he said. “We work for them. It is our job to spend these tax dollars. It is not our job to hoard them, it is our job to manage them and spend them wisely. If you want to see our bank keep going up, if you want to keep putting lives at risk — not only the people in the county, but our deputies — if you want to lose good employees, because they’re overworked, then let’s keep on, but I’m not going to stand for it.”
The board also discussed a request to use the Preble County Courthouse as a wedding venue. Commissioner Robertson brought up the request, stating, she was afraid it would set a “precedent” for others, but promised to bring the issue up to the board.
The proposed wedding is supposed to take half an hour, have not many attendees, and they promised to pay for courthouse security themselves. Security would be a necessity, since it was scheduled for a Saturday and this means the courthouse would need to be opened specifically for that event.
However, the commissioners were afraid that by letting one person hold a wedding on a Saturday at the courthouse, they would be forced to open the courthouse to others on the weekend as well.
“I get both sides of it, but we need to be very cautious here,” Commissioner Day said. “I suggest they do it during the week or when we’re open.”
Other suggestions included: holding the wedding outside the courthouse or during elections in the fall, when the courthouse will already be open on a Saturday.
In other business:
•The board noted receipt of a court entry from Judge Jenifer Overmyer referencing collection of court costs for special funds probate magistrate fees for the month of June.
•The board noted a receipt of a court entry from Judge Jenifer Overmyer referencing collection of court costs for TASC fees for the months of April, May, and June.
•The board noted receipt of a letter from the City of Eaton Inspection and Zoning Office for the Preble County Fairgrounds Expo Building addition time limited occupancy extension request.
The Preble County Board of Commissioners meets every Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Preble County Courthouse, unless noted otherwise.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH