July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Commissioner wants townships, villages to kick in for jail costs

MEDINA — County Commissioner Pat Geissman suggests officials look to townships and villages to help keep a 48-bed men’s unit open at the Medina County Jail.



During Monday’s commissioners meeting, Geissman said she would like to send a letter to townships and villages that do not have a police department of their own, and ask them to contribute an as yet undetermined amount of money to make up for the $234,000 Sheriff Neil Hassinger cut from his budget last week.

“Hopefully other elected officials in this county will realize that safety is a priority and perhaps they would be willing to at least help on a temporary measure on giving $10,000, $15,000 to make sure there is a presence of the sheriff in their townships and villages,” Geissman said.

All county department heads were told this month to cut another 5 percent from their budgets to offset a nearly $1 million county deficit. Earlier this year, the county cut $4 million, or more than 10 percent from last year’s $39 million budget.

Hassinger has said the new round of cuts would mean approximately $230,000 less for his office. In a letter to commissioners Wednesday, he said he would lay off 14 employees — four transport deputies, six corrections officers, one computer technician, one deputy in the civil division, one dispatcher and a part-time nurse at the jail. Because of the layoffs, a 48-bed male unit at the jail also would close next month, and 48 inmates would be released by Aug. 5 when the layoffs are effective.

Geissman said she did not want to see the unit close or the sheriff to lose any of his road patrol. She said going to the communities for the money might keep it from happening.

An additional $230,000 “would keep operations as they are now, which are not ideal,” she said.

Geissman said she consulted with county Prosecutor Dean Holman to see if the county could legally ask for donations from the townships and villages. She said she hopes to get clearance from him today. She said she also needs to receive support from the other two commissioners.

“We are in a crisis. We are in a financial crisis like we have never seen,” Geissman said.

Earlier this year, the sheriff laid off 24 employees, including corrections officers at the jail and part-time deputies at the Medina County Courthouse. Two 36-bed male units were closed.

Last week, members of the unions representing the sheriff’s office — deputies, corrections officers, dispatchers, sergeants and lieutenants — rejected by a 64-to-59 vote a proposal to take off two days per month without pay to avoid more layoffs. The sheriff’s office currently employs about 150 people.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.