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Supervisors talk budget before approving jail staff, consultant

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Sheriff Greg Hagwood can fill four vacant positions at the jail, but first he had to argue his case before the Board of Supervisors.

Hagwood told the supervisors during their July 15 meeting that he had qualified applicants for four “allocated and funded” positions.

“This term is being used loosely right now,” Board Chairman Jon Kennedy said of the words “allocated and funded.”

“When we’re looking at a $3 million deficit, it’s hard to see that it’s funded,” he continued. The supervisors have adopted a preliminary budget, but must uncover more revenue or shave $3 million in spending to pass a balanced budget later this summer.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall agreed and said, “It would be a shame to hire people and then have to lay them off.”

But she acknowledged that the jail has to adhere to required staffing levels. Even with the new hires, the jail will be operating with one less employee than it should, Hagwood said.

“I fully recognize and appreciate the position that the board is in,” Hagwood said of budget concerns, but he reiterated the need to fill the positions.

He received support from County Counsel Craig Settlemire, who said, “These (positions) need to be filled to meet minimum staffing levels.”

The supervisors authorized the sheriff to hire the four correctional officers.

Supervisor Lori Simpson asked Hagwood about other recent hires.

“We approved three deputies,” Simpson said of a prior board action. “Are we getting more coverage?”

“Two are in the academy and one is in field training,” Hagwood said.

He then explained the training process, which includes four months of in-the-field training after completion of the academy — four weeks in each of the main communities: Chester, Greenville, Quincy and Portola.

Given that schedule, Hagwood expected the first deputy to be available for patrol in November, and the remaining two in April.

Help for the auditor

For the third year, the supervisors approved a $60,000 consulting contract with Craig Goodman for help in the auditor’s office.

Roberta Allen, who is in her second year as county auditor, is hopeful that she won’t need to spend all of the $60,000 and that eventually her office will no longer need the assistance.

The supervisors originally contracted with Goodman after the former auditor resigned. He was subsequently retained to help Allen, who came from the private sector and had limited government experience.

Board Chairman Jon Kennedy worried that if the supervisors budgeted $60,000 for this position and it wasn’t spent, then it would be money that couldn’t be budgeted elsewhere.

“I hope to do it for $40,000 to $45,000,” Allen said, but was reluctant to reduce the $60,000 request at this time.

The supervisors approved the contract but expressed the hope that it wouldn’t be necessary in the future.

In addition to Goodman, the supervisors have a contract with Susan Scarlett to help with the budget process. Her contract is not to exceed $30,000.

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