Pocahontas Sheriff & Commission Disagree About Money Available For Law Enforcement Overtime
Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese and the County Commission disagree about the amount of money available for law enforcement overtime payments. At the Commission meeting Tuesday, Sheriff Jonese requested that the Commission approve a budget revision moving funds from salaries to overtime. He explains why the transfer is needed.
“Our budget and overtime were based on a specific number of personnel” he says. “Due to three deputies that were hired and leaving, that has left us short [of personnel]. So in turn, to maintain our coverage, we’re averaging 74 hours per man.”
The Sheriff says it’s resulted in more overtime than he budgeted for. He says employees can choose to be paid overtime or get comp time, unless they are working mandatory overtime hours. Commission President Martin Saffer asked what happens if they don’t approve the extra funding.
“How about if we say no more overtime in your budget?” says Saffer. “Then they would probably continue to work” says Jonese “and then turn around and force the county [to pay].”
“Can’t you then say, you do it comp time?” asks Saffer. “No, you can’t force that” says Jonese “because the state code requires that if they work overtime, that they be compensated.”
Sheriff Jonese maintains that there is money available to cover the request, due to a couple of positions that were eliminated earlier this year. Commissioner Saffer says that money was used for another deputy’s salary, but the Sheriff disagrees. The discussions made it clear that the two men don’t always see eye to eye on law enforcement issues.
“Pull all my officers and set them in the office and I bet it won’t take 24 hours before we get overrun with calls” says Sheriff Jonese. “Are you threatening to strike us?” asks Saffer. “No, I’m just telling you” says Jonese.
As Commissioner Reta Griffith was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, it was decided to table the request until the next Commission meeting.