Archived Story

Layoffs imminent

Published 9:24am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Road deputies expected to be cut

Layoffs could start this week at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office with road deputies the likely targeted group.

“We are working on what we are going to be doing,” Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “We are still trying to work out issues with the unions.”

In 2012 the sheriff’s office spent $858,553 for salaries for road deputies. In this year’s budget the commissioners have allotted $650,250 for that line item.

Lawless had planned to ask the commissioners for additional appropriations at their Thursday meeting. However, he went to the commission’s work session on Tuesday and did not receive any assurances for additional funding, he said.

“I went there (Tuesday) to see how serious this truly is and was told it is kind of set in stone,” Lawless said. “It is more than likely (layoffs) to be road deputies. That took the biggest hit in the budget. With the plan I am working on, I can keep the jail open at the current level. There will be significant less deputies on the road.”

Right now there are 15 deputies for the 24/7 shifts with two deputies per shift for the county.

Also reduced for 2013 has been the 911 dispatching budget, a department the sheriff’s office took over in 2012.

“There has not been a dime spent out of 911 for anything but 911,” Lawless said. “But the commissioners cut that budget $198,000. I have to figure out how to make 911 work. And there has not been the first penny from 911 to support the sheriff’s office.”

Lawless said he did not have a figure on how many deputies would be laid off, but expects notices to go out by the end of the week. The sheriff has to give union employees 60 days’ notice.

“The longer you put off laying people off, the more it costs you,” he said. “Even when you lay people off, you still have to pay people unemployment. That will come out of the budget, (along with) vacation time and comp time.”

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