County commissioners approved $500,000 for detention officer overtime pay Tuesday, temporarily fixing a budget issue that’s been a problem since 2011.
Detention officers at the county jail began working mandatory overtime starting in 2011 because of staffing shortages at the jail.
Those shortages have rolled over into 2013.
“Currently, we have over 50 vacant positions that remain unfiled,” said Sheriff Susan Pamerleau.
In order for remaining officers to receive payment for overtime hours worked, the county commissioners have to specifically allocate funding.
The latest round of funding ran out on Jan. 15, forcing Pamerleau to go before the commissioners and ask for more.
The $500,000 is expected to pay for officer overtime through Feb. 26, by which time Pamerleau expects to have the problem under control.
“This is a temporary solution,” Pamerleau said. “However, this will allow us a little bit of time to begin to implement long term solutions so this problem does not continually arise.”
Pamerleau wants to improve recruiting measures and hire a jail administrator as part of those long-term solutions.
In the meantime, an academy class of 20 detention officers will graduate this week, helping to fill some of the remaining spots.
Part-time officers, as well as a few that have come out of retirement, will also help, according to Pamerleau.
She also said a study is underway to determine exactly how many officers the jail needs to properly function.
That has been an item of contention in years past between former Sheriff’s administrations and the county commissioners.
Pamerleau didn’t say what she expects that number to be, but members of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association said they expect it to rise.
That would mean even more positions would need to be filled.