June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Sheriff’s Office unions asked to consider forgoing raises

MEDINA — The employees of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office are mulling over another alternative to the layoffs of 14 employees next month.

To avoid the layoffs, the employees would have to forgo the 3 percent raises they received this year and relinquish any pay for unused holidays.

Deputy Bill Harrell, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for Medina County, said the different unions began voting Wednesday and will continue through Monday. Unions represent deputies, corrections officers, dispatchers, sergeants and lieutenants.

If accepted by the unions, the sheriff would not have to close the 48-bed male unit at the county jail that Sheriff Neil Hassinger said he would have to cut due to the planned layoffs.

Earlier this month, commissioners told all county department heads they would have to cut their budgets by 5 percent for the rest of the year. Hassinger said that meant about $230,000 for his department.

Last week, the unions voted down the option of taking two days off a month without pay. The sheriff then issued layoff notices to 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. This would bring the number of layoffs to 38 at the sheriff’s office this year — 24 employees were laid off in February.

“When the furlough was presented, we had very little facts. And we were given two days to start a vote basically. It’s hard to get a hold of that many union members in that amount of time,” Harrell said Tuesday. He said he suggested a meeting between union and county representatives this week to discuss other possible alternatives to layoffs.

“We’re trying to come up with a solution here where we’re not looking at cutting personnel a second time. Our manpower situations are so low as it is. We really can’t afford to lose more,” he said.

County Administrator Chris Jakab, county Finance Director Scott Miller, Hassinger, representatives of the different unions and lawyers met Tuesday to discuss possible concessions between the unions and sheriff’s office, Harrell said.

“There had to be some give and take back and forth on this,” he said, and the concessions were “what we came up with.”

Hassinger said Wednesday he couldn’t comment on the negotiations.

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