Pending budget approval, sheriff’s office to get three new positions

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By Matt Kelton
Pioneer Sentinel

Three positions will be added to the ranks of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office pending approval of the county’s 2013 budget. Commissioners gave a tentative “thumbs up” to the additions during budget hearings Tuesday.

The full-time positions will be jailers and dispatchers.

The expansion will cost taxpayers an estimated $171,000, including salaries, benefits and workers’ compensation; increasing the sheriff’s office budget by $75,000. Sheriff Kenny Lemons said $96,000 could come from the relief employee salary budget to fund a portion of the new positions.

New hires at the dispatcher-jailer pay rate cost the county $57,045.88 per employee per year.

Lemons said what was left of the relief budget, approximately $29,000, would be used to fill city shifts, an expense of $26,160 that would be reimbursed by the City of Henrietta.

Precinct 4 Commissioner A.J. Peek suggested two employees, and Johnny Gee, Precinct 2, agreed. Commissioners Lindy Choate, Precinct 1, and John McGregor, Precinct 3, were in favor of three new employees.

With two new employees, the CCSO would have had to leave more money in the relief budget.

“Let’s hire three employees and get this thing straightened out,” said Choate. “And if this doesn’t work, we’ll have to start over from scratch.”

Commissioners approved two new patrol deputy positions in the 2011 budget. Lemons said that with those positions filled, he will be under budget $135,000. County Auditor Ramona Seward said projected expenditures show the CCSO can expect to be $24,000 under budget by the end of the fiscal year. The sheriff’s office has annual budget of $1.7 million.

Commissioners turned down a request for a pay increase from County Attorney Seth Slagle Tuesday. Slagle serves as the county’s criminal prosecutor, but has on several occasions completed civil work for the county at the request of the county judge and commissioners.

Slagle noted that he has not charged the county for the work in the last, but asked for a $6,000 increase in salary for any civil work that might be completed in the future. Slagle said another option would be that he bill the county for legal work outside of his duties as county attorney at a rate of $200 per hour.

If approved, the request would have increased his salary to $50,000 per year. Slagle also receives a stipend from the state and has a private practice.

Slagle also was denied a request to increase the pay grade of his secretary, Shawna Franklin, from deputy II to deputy I.

Commissioners have tentatively approved a $1,500 raise to all county employees.

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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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