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Council tables additional full-time dispatcher request

September 19, 2012
Following an all-day workshop and public hearing regarding the 2013 budget, the Crawford County Council last Tuesday night held off acting on a request for another full-time dispatcher.

"In the pay period that ended Aug. 31, I had $2,247 that I paid out in overtime. If I was able to have another full-time dispatcher, it would have cost the county $884, and actually even cheaper than that, because, when a new one comes on, they come on at the lower (pay rate)."

The county will not have to pay additional health insurance benefits, he explained, because the person he has in mind for the position already is on the county's insurance as their spouse is an emergency medical technician.

White said hiring another full-time dispatcher would leave him just two shifts to fill each week, instead of seven or more, depending on vacation schedules.

The county commissioners, at their August meeting, voted 3-0 to approve the additional position. Their approval, however, was contingent on funding from the council.

Council member Steve Bartels said that, in light of conversations earlier in the day about the need to cuts costs that could impact current employees, the council and commissioners should discuss other possible options.

"Other counties use the jailers as dispatchers, the second dispatcher, so I think it would be prudent at least to have that discussion with the commissioners first before we approve this and talk about how we can restructure what some of the jailers do and dispatchers do before we hire another employee," he said.

"I share that opinion," Council member William Breeding added. "We've got cuts here that we've got to make. It's just not smart to hire somebody."

"Definitely not full time," Bartels said, explaining that the next person who is hired in that position may take the insurance, which the county must provide.

Jerry Brewer, president of the council, suggested that a council member, commissioner, White and Sheriff Tim Wilkerson meet before the council's budget adoption day on Sept. 25.

Noting that the jail and dispatch are separate departments, White wondered which would have authority if employees are shared.

"Who's going to be the boss? When all (heck) breaks loose and something happens over at the jail, is everybody going to rush out of dispatch and go over to the jail?" he asked. "Or, if I have all (heck) break loose out on the street and I need two more dispatchers, is everybody going to leave the control room and come over there to see what's going on, and nobody's going to be manning the (jail)?"

"That's something you guys need to work out," Brewer said.

Bartels said they would follow the same procedures as they do now when extra help is needed.

Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said sharing employees sounds good but he already is shorthanded and has difficulty getting jailers trained within the allotted time. About the only way such an arrangement could work, he said, is if the dispatch is put under the authority of the sheriff as it was at one time.

"It's not that we don't want to" hire another full-time dispatcher, Bartels told White. "We don't have money to do this. We're trying to keep the employees we currently have, and you're asking to hire some more. We've got to think outside the box."

After some quick calculations, he noted the difference between hiring a part-time employee and a full-time one without health insurance is minimal.

Earlier in the meeting, White said good part-time employees are difficult to keep because, once they are trained, they are in high demand from other counties.

"I know I'm getting into deficit spending with the amount of overtime I have. My only solution is to hire that other person and at least keep the cost down somewhat, especially if that person doesn't have to have benefits or anything."

Brewer said it should at least be discussed.

"We're looking at some significant savings here if you guys can work it out," he said.

In another matter, the council voted 5-0-1 (Jim Taylor against and Sharon Wilson was absent) to approve a resolution to withhold the December disbursement of riverboat gaming revenue the county receives from Harrison County to the Crawford County Community School Corp.

Because of budget problems, the council previously discussed keeping one of the two annual disbursements it gives the school corporation for debt reduction. The amount of each disbursement varies, as it is based on the amount of business at Horseshoe Southern Indiana near Elizabeth, but it typically is about $250,000.

Bartels made the motion to make the resolution, and Council member Joey Robinson seconded it.

The council also approved making another early payment on the judicial complex loan. The loan is paid with Switzerland County riverboat gaming revenue the county receives, and, once there is enough money in the fund, the council has opted to make early payments.

"We're saving the county interest by doing this," Brewer said.

In other business, the council:

•Agreed to have another public budget workshop last night (Tuesday) in anticipation of its budget adoption day next Tuesday, Sept. 25. The all-day session at the judicial complex in English will begin at 8:30 a.m.

•Approved, 6-0, several transfer and advertised additional appropriation requests.

•Voted 6-0 to amend the 2012 salary ordinance to reflect position changes at the E-911 Dispatch.

"No extra money," Brewer said. "It's just the way it (the money) was broke out."

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