Tazewell County has saved about $200,000 this year by delaying hirings for vacant positions for 150 days. It wants to do so again.
Some positions, however, can’t wait to be filled, at least according to their department supervisors.
That’s the argument County Board members will consider Wednesday night as they begin setting budget goals for fiscal year 2018, which begins Dec. 1.
The board is expected to approve continuing the policy it began this fiscal year of imposing a 150-day delay before filling positions after they become vacant.
“When someone leaves, unless it’s an essential position we’ve tried not to fill it” for that period, said County Board Chairman David Zimmerman Tuesday. “We’ve realized $200,000 in savings this year alone” through the process.
Two currently vacant positions, those of a deputy sheriff and a maintenance lead assistant in the county’s Maintenance Department, likely will prove exceptions to the rule Wednesday. Zimmerman said he expects the board to approve filling both as soon as possible.
Board members trust the judgment of the county’s other elected and appointed department supervisors, he said. “If they didn’t need the positions (filled) right away, they wouldn’t ask for it.”
In his written request for filling the deputy position made vacant by the retirement this month of Sgt. Tracy Dickson, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jeff Lower said the department must fill it by about Aug. 1 to ensure the deputy will fill the last slot open this year in a 14-week basic training class.
County Facilities Director Mike Strauman, meanwhile, told the board that waiting 150 days to fill one of three full-time maintenance positions “will cause a severe hardship” on his department.
The board also is expected to approve a request to fill a deputy clerk position in the County Clerk’s Office, which has been left vacant for 150 days.
The deputy sheriff position is not the only one currently vacant in his department, said Sheriff Robert Huston. The county’s Justice Center has five corrections officer positions left open by recent departures.
“As of now that hasn’t hurt us,” he said. “The jail’s population is down significantly” from recent years, “as they are across the country. But we do need to fill some of those positions soon.”
As with deputies, corrections officers also must undergo weeks of law enforcement basic training. Huston said the open positions will have remained vacant beyond 150 days by the time he seeks to fill them.
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