WILMINGTON — This year’s increase in pay rates for Clinton County deputies has evidently had the desired effect: less turnover and less under-staffing at the sheriff’s department.
At last year’s budget planning meeting with commissioners, Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. pointed to the loss of deputies to other counties that pay more and asked that pay rates go up for Clinton County deputies. The 2017 budget enabled him to give a one-time adjustment to deputies’ pay scales, and the roster this year has stabilized.
About five deputies departed last year, but this year only one has left and it was partly due to landing a position closer to home, Fizer and Chief Deputy Brian Prickett told commissioners during this week’s budget planning meeting for 2018.
In last year’s budget meeting, Fizer said during 2016 the sheriff’s office had been down at least three deputies and sometimes four. He attributed it largely to deputies going to other nearby counties where they could get more money.
In fact at the budget meeting last year, Fizer described it as probably the worst year for losing deputies in his then 34 years with the sheriff’s office.
After the pay scale increase, two deputies came back to the local sheriff’s office, Fizer said at this week’s appointment with commissioners.
“So that [pay scale] was a big issue,” added the sheriff.
Similarly, Prickett said, “So it really did make a difference.”
Unlike other county departments, the sheriff’s department and county jail operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fizer mentioned that, other than possibly the county highway department when it snows, he thinks the sheriff’s office is the only one incurring holiday pay.
In a letter that Fizer presented to commissioners as part of an informational packet regarding the 2018 budget, he stated, “As a result of the opioid crisis, we have seen an increase in call volume and jail population which has a direct impact on our budgetary resources.”
The sheriff reported there were several times this year when there were more than 100 inmates for several weeks at the Clinton County Jail.
The sheriff’s office network server was purchased in late 2008 or early 2009 with federal grant dollars that were part of an economic stimulus package, said Prickett. It needs to be replaced due to age and technology changes, he said Wednesday.
The server runs all internal computer applications in the sheriff’s office, and most importantly it runs the mapping for call response to emergencies.
The server has failed and the sheriff’s office has reverted to paper documentation twice on Aug. 12, and once on Aug. 15, Aug. 28, Aug. 29, Sept. 26, Oct. 7, Oct. 12, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, according to the sheriff’s office.
A sales quotation this summer for a new server came in at $64,195.
Fizer informed commissioners that as of the end of September, his office is on a pace to return $150,000 of its 2017 budget appropriations back into the General Fund. He said he has returned money to the General Fund every year since becoming sheriff.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.