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SHERIFF TO CUT STAFF BY 3RD



Published: Sat, March 13, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

101 LAYOFF notices IN MAIL; half of jail to be closed

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Friday was a tumultuous day for Mahoning County government, with Sheriff Randall A. Wellington announcing plans to lay off a third of his staff and close half the county jail.

At the same time, the Fraternal Order of Police obtained petitions for a recall of the county commissioners.

Because of the county’s budget shortfall, layoff notices were mailed Friday to 101 employees of the sheriff’s department, Wellington said.

Layoffs are scheduled to take effect at 7 a.m. March 28 and are to coincide with the closing of the 96-bed minimum-security misdemeanor jail as an overnight facility and the closing of about half the main jail, the sheriff said.

The layoffs and closings are necessitated by an anticipated cut announced by county Administrator George J. Tablack of between $4 million and $5.7 million below the sheriff’s $17.5 million in operating expenses in 2009, the sheriff said.

“The recession that everyone is facing should probably be called a depression, as it certainly is one around here. The county is in a financial free fall,” the sheriff said of the loss of tax revenue.

The proposed layoffs and closings can occur only with the permission of the federal court that has been overseeing jail operations as part of a three-year consent decree that settled a jail inmates’ lawsuit concerning crowding, the sheriff said.

City and county officials and the inmates’ lawyers will meet with U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster in Cleveland on Wednesday. The county will seek permission for the cutbacks at the jail.

“I am bound by a federal-court consent decree that is impossible to abide by due to a lack of funds. State law holds me accountable to not spend money that is not in my budget,” said Wellington, who will attend that conference.

“Sending out the notices is not a violation of the consent decree, but actually laying off any deputies or closing portions of the jail is a direct violation of the consent decree,” said Anthony Farris, deputy city law director, who will attend the Cleveland meeting.

“I have sympathy for the sheriff’s predicament, but the larger issue is the money that was removed from his budget. That is the cause of the problem,” Farris said.

“We are definitely going to oppose any such request” for layoffs or closings of parts of the jail, Farris said. “The reason being that there is a valid consent decree in effect. Mahoning County is bound by its terms,” Farris said. The decree expires May 17.

A full hearing must take place before the three-judge panel that approved the consent decree before any layoffs or closings of parts of the jail can be put into effect, Farris said.

Wellington “will not be approved to engage in the cuts or layoffs he is proposing,” Farris predicted.

Wellington acknowledged that the release of nonviolent inmates as the jail shrinks will increase crime, but he said he sees no alternative to the cutbacks.

“We knew they were talking layoffs. We had no idea of the depth. ... We were devastated. That’s 101 families,” said Deputy Glenn Kountz, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141, which represents deputies.

Kountz said the FOP went to the county board of elections Friday to pick up petitions to recall the three county commissioners.

“We have no confidence whatsoever in their leadership abilities anymore,” he said. “We don’t have a problem with the sheriff. The sheriff can only do what the commissioners fund him for.”

The county is operating on a temporary budget. By law, the commissioners must adopt a permanent budget by April 1.

“I don’t have any response to any of Glenn’s comments. Glenn knows just as well that the commissioners have not made any final determination on any budget numbers for any department,” said Commissioner John A. McNally IV. McNally said he’ll likely be at the Cleveland meeting.

“Given our revenue streams at the moment, many of our larger departments are going to see significant budget cuts,” McNally said.

Those receiving layoff notices include 90 deputies, four sergeants and seven civilians. The sheriff now employs 302 people. The layoffs are projected to save $4 million this year.

The misdemeanor jail will remain open as a staging area for the day-reporting inmate program.

The county’s current capacity in both jails combined is 602 inmates, and that number will drop to 254 when the cutback occurs, the sheriff said. The county now houses 459 inmates in both jails, including 40 federal inmates.

When parts of the jail close, the county no longer will have any space available for federal inmates, the sheriff said.

“The stress and uncertainty is going to be felt throughout the organization. I understand the pain this brings to our deputies and their families,” the sheriff said.

In 2008, revenue from the city and federal governments for inmates was $4.31 million. That dropped to $2.96 million last year and is projected to fall to less than $1 million this year, the sheriff said.

The city’s prisoner-boarding agreement, under which it paid the county for each of its misdemeanor prisoners beyond its 71st inmate expired Feb. 23. The city won’t renew that agreement, Mayor Jay Williams said. Farris said the city can’t afford to renew it.

The U.S. Marshals Service recently has been reducing the number of prisoners it houses in the Mahoning County jail in favor of housing more prisoners in the Cuyahoga County jail, which is closer to most of Northeast Ohio’s federal courts, the sheriff said.

The county jail receives $80 per prisoner per day for inmates sent to it from outside sources.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Time to start scaring the Mahoning County voters into approving the 1/2% sales tax. Well it is not gonna work this time - VOTE NO!!!. People's personal economies can't stand more Democrook tax and spend. County residents need to get themselves a CCW and protect themselves. A county the size of Mahoning doesn't need 300 emplyees in the sheriff's office. Downsizing is a good thing. There are plenty of other places in the county budget to cut - start doing it commissioners because your 1/2% sales tax will be going down to a NO vote!

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21970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

It isn't more tax and spend, it is a continuation. But that is really irrelevant b/c the commissioners can impose the tax w/o a vote of citizens. So it really won't matter if tax passes or not.

And where are your "plenty of other places in the county budget to cut"?

I'm not saying there are not any, but where do you think they are?

Silly for FOP to do recall, if that is even available under Ohio law.

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3timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Kountz sorry for the lay off of your members, but they could of worked for less money! And protected the people of Mahoning Cty. What really gets me is NO ADMINISTRATION people were let go. They almost are working it like the Private Sector! Which I always have been an opponent of. Goverment jobs should be ran by the Private Sector and do away with these CIVIC CLUBS! And cults.

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4theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

what I don't understand is why are there layoff's only in the sheriffs department. Why arn't there any layoffs notices going out to other county departments?

I quess it's time for the county to start scaring the voters into the 1/2 percent sales tax in May

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5wastepro(46 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

How about George Tablack's high salary. Has it even been approached that he take a cut.

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6joesmoe(48 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

I am sick and tired of people like Union Forever. You do not know the facts about the Deputies. The Deputies all took concessions that you as a private sector union member would never have taken to keep working and keep the jails and courts open. The idea that the pensions of public employees are extreme are false. The way that the facts were presented were inaccurate. The public employees in the DROP program all sign up to retire in a set amount of years. During that time the pension fund pays into an account that earns a set interest rate what you would have earned in retirement. The amounts are what the retirees would have earned if they did retire, taking that money out of the pension fund. Yes they still get their pay chceks but the money that is placed into that account allows seasoned officers and fire fighters to stay on the job and helps the pesion funds earn money on those accounts. The pesion funds are now in a better position and wont be a burden on society becasue they are self funded unlike the pro union demonazis who force unfunded programs on society raising our taxes. Lets see the unions agree to extend their retirement dates for years and in the process help fund future retirements all without raisng taxes.

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7mammadoll(17 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

layoffs at the jail are absolutely ocscene~ what the deputies have to put up with most of the inmates is not known to the general public and they do this every shift~ they have taken more concessions than is generally known ~ I am not a deputy nor married to one but I know what these guys deal with every day~ it is not fair for the commissioners

the funding of the jail as they have and we need more protection in this county than in all the other 87 counties in ohio we have more crime rate here and that is apparrant in what is housed in the jail ~ and then to lose the federal inmates is ridiculous that is a huge loss here~ we definitely need a clean sweep in this county of all elected officials from the mayor on down ~ wake up people we need to get a grip on what is happening in this city ~ it has gone on long enuf from inept people in office

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8Rokscout(310 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Yes Timothy, you are still a moron. Pay cuts "like everyone else". Mahoning County Sheriff's deputies are some of the lowest paid in the state. Deal with more crap than you ever will, and then have to have a bunch of nobodies like you tell them they still make too much.

You fools are running around saying, it's more money in my pocket, I'm not giving another cent blah blah blah. You WILL NOT even notice the difference in your bank account, or at the store, but you will notice when the roads aren't plowed next year, and when there is even more crime because they are now CERTAIN to only get probation. But hey, you are the smart ones, taking a stand and will still cry out....screw them, the cops make too much anyway. You bunch of gutless wonders, not deserving of the sacrifice these men and women make every day.

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9mammadoll(17 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

yes rokscout~ very true ~ these deputies ARE the lowest paid and deal with the idiots housed in the jail ~ inmates whoare a bunch of sissy sniveling "im locked up you need to take care of me" and rant and rave if they are given one less second of attention and its Ill sue you all for a million dollars if something doesnt happen the second they open their mouths ~ this is what happens every day and these guys are NOT paid enuf for what they do ~ but hey this is what itis so deal with it ~~ right timothy~~ Id like to see you work one day at the jail and then make your comments

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10northsideperson(365 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Short of bankruptcy or mutual agreement to re-open a contract, bargaining unit members most likely cannot have a pay or other cut unilaterally imposed on them (I say this because clearly some people don't get this). You could get away with that with non-union employees (administrators, etc). Salary and benefits are a big-ticket item for any employer.

The jail is under a consent decree. That means that cuts have to be approved, which may or may not be.

The alternatives are eliminating employees completely, eliminating services, or finding other cuts. Recalling the commissioners is not likely to fix the problem, although it may "shuffle the deck" as to where cuts fall.

I'm not enthusiastic about the sales tax, but as I'm already paying for it, and they've committed to it being for a limited time, I'll vote for it.

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11lidieo3(23 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

what a joke!!!!!! the retirement package that these county employees get is unheard of. Commissioner's employees get 24% of their pay/salary (pre tax) deposited into their retirement accounts. This is without them paying a dime out of their pocket. You won't find that in any corporation. There are many concessions which can be made!!!!!

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12Rokscout(310 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Do you have ANY IDEA how much of their pay they contribute. I have seen some of the pay stubs. It is unreal. If you contributed to your retirement, what they do to theirs, maybe you would be just as "golden". ORRRR put on the uniform, shut up, and serve.

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13UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

joesmoe - explain this to me? Summit County with Akron has a population of 550,000 while Mahoning County with youngstown has a population of 250,000 yet both sheriff's offices employee 300 people. I think the number employed by Mahoning is way too many and this layoff will do the county budget good and put them on par with other counties in Ohio. Time to end tax and spend.

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14Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

This mess with the jail was about the lawsuit about the prisoners and the lies told by the commissioners on how the jail would be paid.

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