PARKERSBURG - The Wood County Commission voted 2-1 Monday to return funding earlier removed from the sheriff's department budget for an administrative operations position.
The most recent administrator, T.R. Smith, retired and left the job. Officials from the sheriff's office earlier urged the commissioners to allow them to retain the funding for the post.
At the time, former Chief Deputy Shawn Graham told the commissioners the position was necessary to operations.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Wood County commissioners voted 2-1 Monday to return almost $50,000 to the sheriff’s department to enable the department to continue funding an administrative operations post.
"If we don't get the funds, a deputy would have to be taken off their other duties and reassigned to this job," Graham said.
In anticipation of Smith's retirement, the commissioners removed $49,222 from the sheriff's department budget and placed the funds into contingencies. That amount is Smith's salary plus benefits, county officials said.
Newly appointed Chief Deputy Capt. Matt Smith told commissioners Monday the office previously provided a list of T.R. Smith's duties. He reiterated the position was needed.
Commissioner Blair Couch said the department had previously been cooperative about returning unused funds in the department's salary line item, last year approximately $90,000, he had no issue returning these funds to the sheriff's department budget. The $90,000 was not removed from the department's budget.
"Part of the reason for those leftover funds in salaries last year was because we were behind on hiring, and we had unfilled positions to be filled," Matt Smith said.
Commission President Wayne Dunn said he felt the position had been justified and also voted in the affirmative.
Commissioner Steve Gainer voted no.
"I am of the opinion that you just got the position within the last six years, it was just created when a deputy retired. I can't see where that position is necessary from the outside looking in," Gainer said. "I would much rather you hired a new deputy. It seems you just split up the duties of others and created this position."
The administrative position was created about six years ago by former Sheriff Jeff Sandy to handle administrative duties. At the time T.R. Smith had retired as chief deputy in the sheriff's department.
Matt Smith said a retired deputy is being considered for the post.
"We've lost officers recently with a total of more than 130 years of experience with the department," he said.
"I think we need to do this if this position helps the office run more smoothly administratively," Dunn said.
Included on Smith's duties list were fleet management including coordinating maintenance and repairs to vehicles, purchasing parts, supplies, updating fleet inventory; grant management, preparing reports, purchasing items funded by grants; 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 and 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 S.W.A.T. callouts and other calls as a resource officer, and assisting with other day to day operations of the office.
T.R. Smith and Matt Smith are not related.