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home : news : news   May 24, 2016

10/25/2012 4:45:00 AM
County hires six corrections officers


Kevin Caufield
NewsTribune Reporter



OTTAWA — La Salle County will hire six new corrections officers for its jail after more than two decades of running the facility without an adequate number of employees.
County board finance committee members voted 4-2 Wednesday to include the necessary amount of funding in next fiscal year’s budget to cover the salaries, benefits and equipment needed for the new positions. Committee members Stephen Abel (D-Mendota) and Arratta Znaniecki (R-Ottawa) voted against.
“You may not see a dollar-for-dollar savings but we will see a significant decrease in overtime, it’s safer for corrections officers because they won’t be so overworked, and we have an obligation to protect inmates so they’ll benefit as well,” said finance committee chairman Tom Ganiere (D-Ottawa).
The full county board will ultimately vote on the budget next month. A yes vote will finalize the new positions.
Currently, corrections deputies in the jail work 12-hour shifts plus overtime. Sometimes — due to the county’s union contract with the corrections officers’ union — the county is obligated to cover all shifts using overtime if there are not enough employees. As a result, corrections deputies are sometimes required to stay on a shift longer than 12 hours and work well over 40 hours per week.
The practice not only causes employee fatigue, but could cost taxpayers about $900,000 in overtime this fiscal year.
A study conducted by La Salle County Sheriff Tom Templeton and Jail Superintendent Jason Edgcomb showed eight more corrections deputies would adequately solve the fatigue and overtime cost issue.
The committee agreed to six correction officers, however. Committee members Abel, Znaniecki and Bob Greenwalt (D-Sandwich) stated they wanted to hire just four because the county is running into a difficult economy.
“We’re spending a lot more money than we’re taking in,” Abel said. “I’m not crazy about hiring any new employees. I’d rather see us hire just a few at first.”
Greenwalt, in an odd request, had asked for a motion to table the vote for “a short time to think about it.” Committee members passed the motion, and then voted on the hiring 30 minutes later, which apparently was enough time for Greenwalt to change his original position and approve the hiring.
“We heard the sheriff say once they’re hired he won’t get rid of them,” Greenwalt explained. “We should look at this some more because if it doesn’t work, we can’t go back.”

Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or countyreporter@newstrib.com.












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