MIAMI — Officials in Ottawa County are already struggling over dwindling county funds and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office budget woes.
Just shy of being just three months into the new fiscal year, the alarms are being sounded as the already financially strapped sheriff’s office scrambles to find funds that can be used to pay his payroll costs that are mounting monthly with unpaid compensatory time and overtime.
Ottawa County commissioners heard the latest report during their meeting Monday, Sept. 23.
Short-staffed due to the budget constraints already in place for the sheriff’s office because of past financial issues, the staff struggles to fulfill their duties regarding protecting the public and its safety, which means working longer hours, which in turn means more money the county is going to have to find a way to pay.
And the snowball continues on its downward course.
Commissioners were asked about possible approval of compensatory time for employees of the sheriff’s office.
When pressed for more information, county clerk Robyn Mitchell said that Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd had requested that previously designated line item money (to be used for paying former employees that are still owed money after their employment ends) be used for paying current employees owed for overtime.
Specifically, it was reported that two female dispatchers who also act as female jailers, have worked 36 straight days and are owed hundreds in overtime pay.
The discussion was lively and frustrating, as the conversation bounced from official to official all wanting to find a solution and coming up empty-handed.
It was decided that District Attorney Kenny Wright will research the rules and regulations governing compensatory pay further and the request for the use of line item money was denied.
On another note, commissioners reviewed a proposed lease-purchase agreement renewal back dated to July 1 for vehicles used by the sheriff’s office at a cost of $84,000 to $90,000 a year.
It was quickly pointed out that the agreement covers 13 vehicles, yet only six are currently in use, and it was questioned why.
District 2 commissioner Chad Masterson said that some of the vehicles are at Vance Ford and are being looked at by “other entities,” and one or two are in need of repairs and/or bodywork.
It was his recommendation that the agreement be renewed until the fate of some of the vehicles in question is known.
In other sheriff and county jail related agenda items, a presentation was made by Tom Glathar regarding the contract between the jail and his company, Tiger Correctional Services.
Glathar said that he felt their competitor, who had made a recent presentation to the board in an attempt to gain the county’s jail and commissary services contract, had “grossly misrepresented” the truth by having told the commissioners that Tiger was only giving the county “5% of the commissary profit margin,” which was far from the truth, according to Glathar.
Tiger Services, based out of Jonesboro, Arkansas, provides inmate commissary services to detention facilities here and in surrounding states, which include inmate food services, jail and detention facility software to manage inmates’ accounts, and jail management systems. The company also manages a county jail in Mississippi.
Glathar pointed out to county officials present that Tiger’s contract with the county must renew by July 1 every year and that it requires a 30-day written notice to terminate.
“We have not seen anything in writing beyond an e-mail we received Aug. 23,” Glathar said, which is when they first learned of the county’s intent to terminate.
The commissioners consulted with the DA who advised that they take no action until he can meet with Floyd, who was not present at the meeting.