Another unproductive jail workshop

August 21, 2013

Once again, the jail transfer negotiations between the county and the sheriff’s department have hit an impasse with the sheriff’s internal service fund and accumulated leave payouts, though most of the other kinks have been worked out.

The Wednesday morning meeting dragged on for three hours, with at least two-thirds of that dedicated to back-and-forth negotiation between Chief Deputy Eric Haines and county budget director Amy Lovoy on whether the sheriff would be allowed to keep the ISF at a capped limit, do away with it entirely or come up with some other way to satisfy both parties.

Lovoy’s proposal would require the sheriff’s department to pay all required Fair Labor Standards Act leave related to the jail transition and all required leave payouts up until September 30 from the remaining ISF, and then return unspent ISF money to the county. The county would then inherit liability for all detention-related leave.

Additionally, the sheriff would be allowed to keep up to a maximum of $1 million in the ISF at the end up of the 2012-13 fiscal year to help pay for required leave payouts in the 2013-14 fiscal year, with the aid of whatever lapsed salaries the sheriff has for that year.

Haines argued that such an agreement would create a complete lack of leave funding for the 2014-15 budget and refused to agree to the terms, instead offering a 60/40 split of the current, leftover ISF as well as the leftover lapsed salaries in exchange for being allowed to continue the ISF as it currently stands – so that they can continue to put money into it to pay for future leave payouts.

“As soon as I agree to that, you’ll just change the sport again,” Lovoy said. “Instead of playing football, we’re playing lacrosse now. As soon as I say ‘Yes,’ you’re going to say ‘Oh, that’s not what I meant. I meant something else.’”

Neither side seemed willing to budge on their demands and Interim County Commissioner George Touart plans to ask the Board of County Commissioners to call a special meeting so that both sides can present their cases and let the board decide where to go with it next.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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  • Ames August 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Cindy, but you haven’t been paid for those hours, money that is rightfully yours. Ya’ll may as well file your claims with the Dept. of Labor now and notify DOJ, also.

  • Cindy August 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Joe – I was under the impression that as a 8+ year employee, I had earned that money (payout of unused leave) that is being threatened to be taken away by good ole boy George and the BCC. Believe me, if I’d been allowed to take that leave when it had been requested, I wouldn’t be in this predicament. But, since most all requests were denied, I have now have all this built up time, I don’t see why I should have to wait to receive payment of it just because the Sheriff lost the pissing contest with Valentino and/or good ole George.

    The employees received notice today that the BCC will “repurchase up to 20 hours of leave between January 1 and March 31 of 2014” – but any purchases after that will be purchased “provided funds are available”. This latter part will occur between April 2014 and December 2016 – in other words, let’s string it out for as long as we can. Anybody out there really think the BCC will have any available funds for this? If you do, maybe you should run for the BCC.

    Most of the detention deputies are in the same boat – unable to take leave because the positions within the jail have to be manned by law – and now are going to pay for it…literally.

    I don’t want more than what’s owed to me. We’ve have no cost of living increases in over 5 years. Now, the BCC wants to ensure that I really want my job as a detention deputy, cause when they take over, our heath insurance prices are going way up.

    But – I do agree with you when you say it belongs to the taxpayer – cause I’m a taxpayer and yep, it does belong to me, too !!

  • Ames August 23, 2013 at 10:04 am

    IIRC, SRSO employees could wait until they either resigned their positions or retired to collect their funds if they chose to wait until then. If the employer is required, by law or by contract, to have those funds available and not used for other purposes until the employee chooses to access their money, what difference does it make when they collect that pay?

  • jeeperman August 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    By law, is there not a “tipping point” where accumulated leave must be paid out in cash after so many hours are accumulated? i.e. after you have accumulated 200 hours, all hours accumulated after that point shows up in your paycheck instead.
    If the denial of paid leave is so prevalent due to employee shortage, the amount of leave owed is going to be HUGE.
    And the county is on the hook for every penny.
    A little bit at a time or ALL AT ONCE period.

  • joe August 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    No Cindy, the money belongs to the taxpayers of Escambia county and is a potential, partially funded liability to the employees.

  • play ball August 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    did you really expect anything different?

  • CJ Lewis August 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Although the transition soap opera is an interesting story, the bigger story yet to be told is how the Board of County Commissioners intends to address the findings of the DOJ report. How many new Jail Detention Deputy/Assistant positions is Escambia County going to create for Fiscal Year 2014 (October 2013 – September 2014) and to what extent will these positions make the Jail less dangerous and violent? Whenever Commissioner May raises this issue, Interim County Administrator Tourat, who seems to imagine himself as the sixth commissioner to judge by the offhand way he verbally swats commissioners around always talking over them, seems to tell May in many different ways, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Given all the money to be freed up by taking the Library and ECAT out of the General Fund, there should be plenty of money next year to fix the Jail staffing problems as quickly as they can hire people.

  • Cindy August 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Let me get this straight. The money the Sheriff has belongs to the employees of the Jail. What money is there now would not be enough to cover ALL of the leave that has been built up on the books. The sheriff is still gathering money to be able to pay out all leave balances if something were to happen. Now let me get this part right. Good ole boy George wants to use the jail employees money to help pay for the jail transfer to the tune of $5 million. Let me get this other part right, too. The Sheriff only wanted $2.5 to keep running the jail. Should we be trusting the BOCC to run our county? The BOCC good-ole-boy pissing contest with the sheriff is costing us millions of dollars. So far, the BOCC is spending money to pay for new uniforms (4 sets each with patches and logos) for over 300 employees; spending money for all computers and software was a big chunk of money. Before it is all over with, the BOCC will spend $8 to $10 million for the transfer. I’m not sure if the average citizen of Escambia County knows that the BOCC still has not addressed the 80 to 100 employee short fall that DOJ mandates be in place within the jail system. That’s where all this stuff hit the fan – when the Sheriff petitioned the BOCC for the $2.5 million he needed, so he could correct this shortage in staffing and avoid the $15,000 PER DAY fine. So, if the BOCC doesn’t adhere to DOJ requirements in a timely manner, how do you think they will be able to pay this fine? That’s $450K for every month the BOCC fails to comply. And while the BOCC has been able to yank the ECSO around, I don’t see DOJ playing by the same rules. Usually, the Feds win.

    I have read some comments asking why the Jail employees are not like any other companies who have a policy of “Use it or lose it” when it come to accrued leave. Simply because the jail has a mandatory number of positions by State and Federal laws that have to be manned. When you are 80 to 100 correctional officers short, it becomes a staffing issue and leave requests are denied. I know some employees who have submitted a leave request for every day they are scheduled to work for months in advance (some up to 2 years). Almost ALL of the leave requests were denied due to staffing shortages. SO now all leave goes unused and into an account that good ole George wants to take from the Employees. Comp time on the books will not buy groceries or pay bills. You will not survive on comp time alone. Good ole boy George has made his money and could not care less about the Citizens or the employees.

    $2.5 million seems more reasonable to me than $8-10 million.

  • Ames August 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Wwwwuhhh, wonder which way the BOCC will go! Two opponents and one party gets to decide who gets the money…and the one deciding is the one that wants to take the money from the other?? If the county managed their budget as well as the ECSO apparently manages theirs they wouldn’t need to be trying to pick the Sheriffs pocket.

  • Christine August 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Are you surprised? This has gone beyond the point of ridiculous.