May 3, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Sheriff’s office layoffs to hit 24

By ALLISON WOOD | Staff Writer

MEDINA — The number of corrections officers and road deputies will be reduced significantly when Sheriff Neil Hassinger eliminates 24 positions due to budget cuts.

County officials told Hassinger on Monday this year’s budget must be $1 million less than last year’s $9.9 million. About $750,000 of the reductions will be in staffing.

“These are going to be some things reduced that will really hurt us,” Hassinger said Thursday.

Sixteen of those positions will be full-time employees, while the rest are part time. The office employs 172 people in all departments.

Ten of the 66 corrections officers at the Medina County Jail will be laid off because a 72-bed male unit will be closed permanently. Along with closing the unit, programs such as GED and anger-management classes aimed at reducing the recidivism rate also will be cut, Hassinger said.

“We have our lowest jail population in 10 years,” he said, but with the crime rate likely to increase, the number will rise.

On road patrol, six deputies are scheduled to be laid off, which will increase response times and make it difficult to respond to some calls, Hassinger said. There are usually three deputies on the road every shift, but that will change to one or two after the layoffs, he said.

“I can’t accept the fact that we can’t respond to somebody in trouble,” Hassinger said.

Other areas that will see reductions include staffing at the Medina County Courthouse. Six part-time deputies currently are assigned to the two entrance checkpoints. Hassinger said the courthouse’s front entrance on Public Square likely will close to save the cost of placing a deputy there.

Union rules dictate part-time employees must be laid off first, he said, and the other positions are decided by department seniority. Layoff notices will not be issued until commissioners pass the budget, he said.

The county must cut more than $4 million from last year’s $39 million budget due to decreasing tax and investment revenue. The original figure was $3 million, but that rose last week due to a significant decline in the county’s investment portfolio, county Commissioner Pat Geissman said Wednesday.

These layoffs and budget cuts are happening as county commissioners finalize the $13 million expansion-renovation of the county courthouse.

“We won’t have a bed for someone a police officer arrests, but we’ll have a nice courthouse,” Hassinger said.

The county also must pay $900,000 toward construction of a parking deck behind the courthouse, which is scheduled to break ground soon. The city of Medina is paying for most of the construction costs.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet this morning to discuss the budget and will have their regularly scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Wood may be reached at 330-721-4050 or