JCSO moves personnel around to save money

Published 5:09 pm Monday, January 9, 2017

There’s now some more room at the top of the chain of command at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Jefferson County Commissioners Court approved the reclassification for some top positions at the JCSO at their regular meeting on Monday afternoon.

County Judge Jeff Branick said the office was “a little top heavy” and Sheriff Zena Stephens wanted to move them to different departments. He added that he hasn’t heard any resistance to the changes from departmental personnel outside of some comments on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Association website.

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Stephens said she wants to streamline the JCSO.

She said she wasn’t criticizing former administrations, but in the past there were four chief deputies in the department as there are now two chief deputies — one for the jail and one in corrections.

“We’re trying to be more efficient. We have a $13 million shortfall in the county,” she said.

Though there has been no layoffs, some JCSO personnel appointments changed when former Sheriff Mitch Woods’ term ended.

Stephens said everyone has been cooperative with the changes.

“Something had to happen,” she said.

The commissioners approved reclassifications for the sheriff: downgrade of two chief deputy positions to captain positions, reclassification of a lieutenant position to a union administrative assistant position paid captain pay, transfer of a major position in the jail budget to a major position in the sheriff budget paid at law enforcement pay.

They will also consider for approval reclassification for the jail: downgrade of a lieutenant position to a sergeant position.

The total annual savings including benefits would be about $22,000 with a savings during the remaining budget year of about $17,000.

Stephens wrote in a memorandum to the commissioners court, “In our efforts to restructure and cut cost in positions at the sheriff’s office, I would like to propose the following changes to our budget. I would like these changes to be effectively immediately, so we may move forward in our mission.”

Stephens wrote she wanted to downgrade two of the law enforcement chief deputies’ positions to captains to serve in mid-level management to assist in the operations that were formerly executed by chief deputies and upper management.

She also wants to move the current major’s position from the corrections division to the law enforcement division to better use that position in the operations of the sheriff’s office.

“In reviewing staff at the corrections level, I find it necessary to downgrade a lieutenant to a sergeant’s position for first line supervision in the daily operations of the corrections division,” she wrote.

Lastly, she would like to reclassify a lieutenant’s position from the law enforcement division to a union administrative assistant paid at a captain’s rate, as the administrator for the Marine division.

“This person would be utilized to oversee budget and equipment to lessen a financial impact to our county and industry,” she stated. “I feel there are savings to be found that would compensate for the added position to the Marine division. Although this position would currently be funded through law enforcement salaries, we would hope that the Navigation District would see the benefit and budget for that position in the next fiscal year. This would potentially reduce our salaries an additional $80,000 a year.”

Stephens estimates this would save the county $17,000 in salary with the potential of $100,000 savings for future fiscal years to come.

David Ball: 409-721-2427