Elected officials in Warren County are working to come up with an additional one-million dollars to cover the cost of new hires at the county jail. As Matt Hunter explains, leaders were left with little choice when it came to adding the extra staff.
LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. -- Warren County supervisors are figuring out where to come up with additional $1 million to add to the county correctional facility’s budget.
"That is a substantial increase to our budget," Warren County undersheriff Shawn Lamouree said Friday.
"I think if it was something we didn't have to do, obviously we wouldn't do it," board of supervisors chairman Kevin Geraghty said.
Last winter, following its first staffing analysis of the Warren County Correctional Facility since it opened in 2004, the New York State Commission of Corrections directed county officials to add more guards.
"Their determination was we need to hire 13 additional full-time correction officers and we also had to fill 10 full-time equivalents," said Lamouree, who added the full-time equivalents can be filled using overtime or part-time employees.
In addition to boosting security and safety, the extra staff is expected to cut down on overtime costs, which have soared in recent years.
"Our overtime costs were somewhere above $600,000 last year just for our correction division,” Lamouree said. “I believe we budgeted somewhere around $350,000."
Even with those savings, the hires the hires will add $1 million to the jail's $8 million budget. With money tight, some on the county board of supervisors have suggested reassigning members of the patrol division, but administrators say civil service guidelines make that impossible.
"The two positions are not interchangeable,” said Lamouree, who added corrections officers and patrol officers undergo different training.
On top of the civil-service law restrictions, Sgt. Tony Breen, president of the Sheriff's Office PBA, believes the patrol division is already stretched thin, especially as Summer approaches when extra deputies are needed to cover special events like Americade.
"I don't favor cutting our road patrol,” said Geraghty, a Republican who serves as Warrensburg’s town supervisor. “I don't see it as a viable option."
To ease the strain, the hires will be split over the next two fiscal years: the first seven this August with the remainder in January. That still leaves officials with the task of identifying exactly where the money will come from.
"It is going to cost more, everybody needs to understand that," Geraghty said.
"I am sure we will be able to get the job done at the end of the day," Lamouree said.