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Sheriff Wellington seeks $7M budget hike for jails, raises, vehicles

Published: Fri, December 2, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



Mahoning County Sheriff Randall A. Wellington came to the county commissioners with a long wish list, including recalling all 37 laid-off deputies.

The sheriff at his budget hearing said he wants to fully open the main jail and reopen the minimum- security jail for overnight use.

His requests also included purchasing five new vehicles and a $400,000 trailer to use as an indoor firing range outside the minimum-security jail.

Wellington seeks to increase his budget from $16.3 million in authorized spending from the county’s general fund this year to $23.3 million next year, but he said candidly he does not realistically expect to get all the funding he’s seeking for 2012.

“We want to bring back all of our laid-off personnel,” the sheriff told commissioners Thursday, adding he has included in his request enough money for 3-percent pay raises as wage talks with deputies begin next week.

Eighty-eight percent of the sheriff’s budget is consumed by wage-and-benefit costs.

The sheriff said he is struggling to staff the jail adequately to keep conditions constitutional so the county will not face another costly jail-inmate lawsuit as it did in 2003 concerning jail crowding.

His hearing was one of a series of departmental budget sessions the commissioners have been conducting in preparation for their enactment by Dec. 15 of the county’s 2012 budget.

Commissioners must prioritize spending because departmental budget requests total more than $67 million, but the county budget commission has certified only $47.9 million in general-fund revenue for next year.

Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said she’d like to explore ways to reduce jail-utility costs, which are projected for 2012 at $500,000 for electricity and $181,000 for natural gas.

Combined electric and gas costs for the county jail and the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center, which detain inmates around the clock, total more than $1 million a year, she noted.

Besides 3 percent raises that may emerge from new negotiations, the sheriff’s budget request includes $5,000 annual pay raises already negotiated for each full-time cadet (entry-level deputy), which raises cadet salaries to $29,500 a year.

The sheriff told the commissioners he believes the deputies have reached their limit in taking concessions. “They gave a lot,” he said, referring to pay cuts and elimination of ranking-officer overtime in recent years.

Sheriff’s deputies are among law-enforcement officers from about 40 departments who now use a crowded outdoor Austintown police firing range for target practice, and the trailer will give them nearby use of an indoor facility all year, the sheriff said.

Sgt. Thomas DeGenova, the sheriff’s fiscal officer, said his department is seeking a grant for the firing-range trailer.

Wellington said he’s asking for five new vehicles because his department has gotten none in the last decade.

To reopen the two closed prisoner-housing units at the main jail but keep the minimum-security jail closed to overnight use, only 18 deputies would need to be recalled from layoff, the sheriff said.

The minimum-security jail is now used only for the day-reporting inmate work program.

As for potential income-producing operations, the sheriff said his department is negotiating with several entities to possibly use the minimum-security jail for a three-day driver education alternative program for drunken-driving offenders.

Such a program, which would require overnight stays, would be paid for by the offenders as an alternative to their going to regular jail cells.


1whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Put them prisoners to work !!!! These deputies mostly stand in a room push buttons to let the babies come out and eat then tell them to get back to their cells.

Start making them prisoners clean this town up, set up your own restore. All of these prisoners need to learn to work.

.25 cents a brick , you would have your money.

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2Dafine(14 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

He really belives there is a Santa Clause!

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Raises for all now that SB5 has been defeated. Told you so!

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4lee(544 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Union you got that right

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5author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Oz has the best plan of all -'adopt a deputy' and keep the jail fully staffed and under a $19.7 million budget.

See the great OZ thinks if every 'rich' family adopts one deputy and takes full responibility for that deputies pay and perks, the county will save money.

This guy is brillant!

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6palbubba(809 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

UnionForever has it exactly right. I've been saying the same thing. You voted for change and hope, and now you have it. Change instead of dollars and no hope. Are you who voted to defeat SB 5 still celebrating? Counting on 3% pay raises when there is no money? Who cares it's not Wellingtons money. They defeated SB 5 they deserve what they get. Nice attitude.

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7taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

gdog, you must not have read the article!
you found it easier to insult the posters:

"Besides 3 percent raises that may emerge from new negotiations, the sheriff’s budget request includes $5,000 annual pay raises already negotiated for each full-time cadet (entry-level deputy), which raises cadet salaries to $29,500 a year."
and this is the second mention of raises in this article

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8ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Are you ignoramus' kidding me?! These guys work for 29,500 a year and we are quibbling over a 3% raise with how much the cost of living has gone up. They've given up raises in past years. It's time we tell the politicians to stop stealing the money for other things, and pay the sherriffs and police. This has nothing to do with sb5, let it die already you a-holes. Also, the shooting range, it says they are looking into a grant for it. Are any of you commentators educated past high school and do you do anything but sit on your computer, comment on these, and wait for your welfare checks? I certainly wouldnt do their job for 29,500 a year. That's pathetic when the average salary in the most depressed region of the country is higher than that. You all need to pull your heads out of your a**es.

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9southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

@ ipaidattention -

I agree, no one becomes a law enforcement official to make money; and a 3% raise seems reasonable to me.

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