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Council defers sheriff's $25,000 request

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Glenn hopes to employ part-time deputy

TELL CITY - Perry County Council members tabled at a regular meeting Jan. 24 a request from Sheriff Bob Glenn for a $25,000 additional appropriation intended to pay a part-time officer's salary.

A part-time deputy is needed, Glenn told the council, to fill a gap created when existing deputies take vacation, holiday or personal-days time off or the sick leave they're entitled to. Added up, the six deputies' time off totals 115 man-days per year.

"We have individuals working 12-hour shifts," Glenn said, referring to a change he initiated last April to increase coverage. "We have to charge 12 hours (each day) one is off" for vacation or sick time."

Three deputies are on duty for two days at a time, he explained. "If anyone misses at all, we're short to where we do not have coverage," he said, wondering aloud what liability issues the county might face. State police used to cover deputy shortages, but now, "if it's not of a dire emergency ... it waits for us, until we can take care of it," Glenn said.

"We have more cases now, more transports, the whole nine yards," he added. The sheriff's department is responsible, among other things, for taking jail inmates to and from court appointments. "It's going to be an ongoing problem."

The sheriff said he looked for grants to beef up his staff because he knew the county was strapped for cash, but found none available. If he could hire a part-time officer who'd work less than 32 hours per week, he could save money because the county wouldn't have to pay for benefits such as vacation or sick time, he said.

"We've got a budget that's stretched so thin with all the extra things that have been put on us by the state," Council President Pete Franzman said.

Glenn pointed out his department has increased sheriff's-sales revenues from hundreds to thousands of dollars, the state Department of Correction is charged for medical care provided to its prisoners housed in the county lockup, and other inmates are charged for medical evaluations conducted by jail officers, who underwent training to reduce the need for doctors' visits. "So we've been generating money," he told the council, "We spend thousands of dollars out of our commissary (fund) that a lot of people never see." He noted the commissary funds can only go to certain expenses, not including salaries.

The amount Glenn requested is hard to approve at the first council meeting of the year, Franzman noted, when they don't know how much they'll get for the year.

County Auditor Connie Berger said counties have typically received budget details from state officials by March, but that may not be the case this year. "We're at the mercy of ... and waiting for information from the state," she said.

"We appreciate all the efforts you put into the sheriff's department," Councilman Chet Mathena told Glenn just before Councilman Merle Doogs offered a "motion to table this until we know where we're at."

"This is just a tough time," Mathena said.