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Supervisors Reconsider Jailer Hiring

By Staff | Feb 11, 2010

After approving the hiring of a third full time jailer at the Palo Alto County Jail back in January, the Palo Alto County Supervisors revisited the hiring during their weekly meeting on Feb. 9. A discussion with Sheriff Dennis Goeders over budgetary concerns for the position prompted the board to rescind the original motion.

The issue came back before the board Tuesday when Goeders requested that the board allow the new jailer to start employment on March 1, rather than July 1 of this year. Goeders told the board that his jail budget was going to be overspent due to training expenses for new part-timer jailers. His communications center budget is on target, and the sheriff estimated that his office budget would see a surplus of $31,000, so that the insurance costs of the jailer starting in March could be handled.

But, the board questioned the sheriff’s estimates.

Board Chairman Jerry Hofstad started the discussion by noting that when the request was first brought before the board on January 12, he originally had been opposed to the idea of hiring another full-time jailer, but, when assured by the sheriff that he would have saved an additional $24,000 in his budget area by the end of the current year, he changed his mind to approve the hiring. Now, with the differing numbers, Hofstad was not in favor of the hiring at all.

At that meeting, Supervisor Keith Wirtz was absent, and did not vote, but the vote on the hiring was 3-1, with Supervisor Ed Noonan dissenting.

“What do you think?” Hofstad asked the remainder of the board members.

“I really think the state has put Denny in this position and forced this,” Ron Graettinger said. “I guess I think the third full time jailer is needed.”

“I guess I wish that our little county didn’t need to have a jail at all or need the jailers, but unfortunately, we do,” said Keith Wirtz.

“Denny has always been very responsible with his budgets,” Leo Goeders noted. “I trust his judgment.”

“Denny said one of the reasons for needing a full timer was liability,” noted Ed Noonan. “That’s why we pay for liability insurance and have it. You can re-vote if you’d like, but I’m not changing my vote.”

Goeders explained that in the coming year’s budget, a line item for the Integrated Services Pathway Program, or ISP, would no longer be needed, as the program was cancelled by Seasons Center for Mental Health.

“We figured out the other day that just three of our prisoners in the jail used $15,000 worth of medicines through that program last year alone,” Goeders noted. “But with the ISP gone, we’re going to see more commitments, which will come out of the mental health budget.”

And, with the cancellation of the ISP program, money set aside for the program in the current budget year for the sheriff’s office will not be expended, totaling roughly $6,000.

“We’ve been going through the line items in our budgets to see where we’re at, and project what we’re going to spend,” Goeders told the board. “One of our savings is in the area of fuel. I budgeted for fuel for the current budget based on higher fuel prices last year, so we haven’t spent as much for our fuel this year.”

Understanding that money from one line item of a budget could be moved to another line of the budget through a resolution, the board voted to rescind its motion of January 12, 2010, authorizing the hiring of a third full-time jailer. The motion was approved on a 5-0 vote.

At that point, Ron Graettinger moved to approve the hiring of a third full-time jailer to start March 1. Leo Goeders seconded the motion an on a roll call vote, Graettinger, Goeders and Wirtz cast aye votes, while Hofstad and Noonan voted nay. Hofstad declared the motion carried on a 3-2 vote to bring the discussion to a close.