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Sheriff's budget request trimmed

March 27, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Sheriff's budget request trimmed

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades' plea for help wasn't fully answered by the County Commissioners Thursday.

The commissioners Thursday chopped his request for 11 new correctional officers at the Washington County Detention Center to four in their $105 million working budget for fiscal year 1999, which begins July 1.

The commissioners also tentatively approved eight new deputies for the patrol division, a new computer employee and a secretary for the Sheriff's Department.

A federal grant will fund 75 percent of the salaries for the eight patrol deputies for three years.

The commissioners also tentatively approved hiring a private security firm to take over metal detector duties in the county's courthouses, and $100,000 to pay a shift differential to evening and midnight shift employees.

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Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook suggested cutting the jail request, noting that several positions at the jail have not been filled.

Sixty-five correctional officers are funded this year at the jail, including the vacant positions.

The actions won't become official until the commissioners vote on a final budget after they hold a public hearing on their proposed spending plan. The hearing is scheduled for April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Kepler Theater at Hagerstown Junior College.

Mades, who called his budget "a plea for help" when he presented it to the commissioners in February, didn't comment on the board's actions Thursday.

Mades told the commissioners in February that the jail's average population jumped sharply in the past year, from 336 in January 1997 to 433 in December 1997.

The increased number of prisoners was creating an "unmanageable" situation, Mades said.

Mades said he surveyed four other Maryland counties - Charles, Frederick, Howard and Harford - and found each was spending at least $2.2 million more a year on their jails than Washington County despite having fewer inmates.

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