Wood County Sheriff’s Department advocates keeping administrative post

PARKERSBURG – Officials from the Wood County Sheriff’s Department urged county commissioners to keep an administrative operations position after the current holder of the job retires.

Shawn Graham, chief law enforcement deputy for the department, told commissioners that T.R. Smith will be retiring after more than 36 years on the job. Smith serves as the administrator of operations for the department. His last day in the office will be in June, but the effective date of his retirement, due to accrued vacation time, will actually be Sept. 1.

“Tom performs a large number of duties and responsibilities,” Graham said handing the commissioners a list of those duties.

“We feel this position is absolutely necessary to the operation of the sheriff’s department. We are asking you to allow the continuation of the funds for the position. If we don’t have that position, we will have to take deputies off the road to do those duties and we really don’t want to do that,” Graham said.

Smith’s salary is $40,200 not including benefits. In putting together the county’s new budget which begins July 1, the commissioners removed Smith’s salary from the sheriff’s department budget placing those funds in the contingencies account.

“Irregardles of your decision to keep or do away with that position, you will have to do a budget revision to put funds back in to continue funding the job until the retirement takes effect in September,” county administrator Marty Seufer told commissioners.

Graham noted with the increase in the department’s call volume and cases it would not be in anyone’s best interests to pull deputies off their regular duties to takeover the administrative responsibilities Smith is performing.

Included on Smith’s duties list are fleet management including coordinating maintenance/repairs to vehicles, purchasing parts, supplies, updating fleet inventory; grant management, preparing reports, purchasing items funded by the grants and related duties: managing court security, office staff and part-time employees, including managing vacation time, creating monthly schedules for court security, approval of timesheets and related duties: coordinating training for all deputies; managing cell phone service/billing; handling uniform needs and requisitions; assist in preparing budgets, managing the budget, review and authorizing invoices, preparing and submission of requisitions, screening equipment; responding to SWAT callouts and other calls as a resource officer, and assisting with other day to day operations of the office.

“Most of the grants go through Toni (Tiano), and we are trying to get a new maintenance person to work with the fleet, so that might relieve some of the duties,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.

“In my opinion we would eliminate the position because of our lack of funding. We are trying to give pay raises, and I’m sure the deputies would like a raise,” Commissioner Steve Gainer said.

“While the deputies have not had a pay raise for awhile and they certainly deserve it, if that is at the cost of losing this position, I don’t think that’s in the best interests of the department,” Graham said.

“It is necessary to cut back,” Gainer said.

“We don’t have extras in our budget, and we try to keep costs down,” Graham told the commissioners.

“I’d like to see where we are at the end of June, I don’t disagree this position is needed,” commission President Wayne Dunn said.

“We will have to fund the position until Tom leaves in any event, then we can review it again,” Couch, asking Graham to provide the commissioners with salary guidelines to review for a potential replacement who would come to work at a lower salary level, and, in the meantime see if some of the duties could be absorbed by others.

“We don’t want to have deputies taken off their other duties called in to cover,” Couch said.

The operations position is full time.

“I can certainly understand why it would be more efficient with one person in charge,” Dunn said.