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Washington County agencies seek to add staffers

Requested positions include three more emergency call-takers for the county 911 center

March 06, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

Washington County department heads made their cases Tuesday to add 7.5 new positions to the government payroll in the next fiscal year at a cost of nearly $400,000.

The requested positions include three more emergency call-takers for the county 911 center; two employees for a new day-reporting center for nonviolent offenders; an additional information-technology specialist for the county sheriff’s office; an employee to staff the transit transfer center’s ticket office; and upgrading an airport office associate to full time.

The presentation was meant to make the Washington County Board of  Commissioners aware of the personnel requests, although county budget advisers have not decided yet which of the requested positions to recommend approving, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

“We haven’t raised taxes, so where’s the money coming from?” Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham asked.
“We’ll be back to you on that,” Murray told her. “Not everything is going to happen.”

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Murray said county budget advisers are still working to eliminate a $5 million deficit between operations budget requests and county revenue, Murray said.

The seven new positions and one upgrade requested would cost $385,616 in additional wages and benefits in fiscal 2013, according to budget request documents.

Several other requests for increases in part-time and overtime wages bring the total requests for personnel budget increases to $432,696.

Explaining the need for three more call-takers at the 911 center, Charles R. Summers, the county’s deputy director of emergency services, said the center remains under the state’s required 10-second daily average time to answer phones, but has neared that limit several times this year.

“I just don’t know how much longer we can continue to give this level of service to Washington County with the amount of personnel that we have,” he said.

The Maryland State Police have not followed though on an offer to contribute three employees to work full-time as call-takers, Summers said.

Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said his office has only one IT specialist who is responsible for more than 100 computers, 80 mobile data terminals, three live scan-fingerprint machines and the detention center’s new video visitation system.

Mullendore said the IT specialist is on call around the clock and works far beyond 40 hours a week.
“I’m afraid we’re going to end up losing him if we don’t get him some help in the very near future,” he said.

The program director and deputy assigned to the day-reporting center would begin work Oct. 1, so only nine months’ of wages and benefits are included for the fiscal 2013 request, Mullendore said.

Mullendore has led a push for a day-reporting center as a cost-saving alternative to incarceration for nonviolent offenders with drug and alcohol addictions.

Kevin D. Cerrone, the county’s transportation director, told the commissioners he had a funding source to pay for an employee to staff the ticket and information booth at the county’s new transfer center. The county will receive a grant for preventative maintenance that will pay for some of its mechanics’ wages, allowing that money to be used for a ticket office staffer, he said.

The airport office associate proposed to be moved to full-time was hired to work 20 hours per week but for the past three years has averaged 35 hours per week, Stephanie M. Stone, county health and human services director, told the commissioners.

The commissioners must decide which, if any, of the personnel requests to fund by the time they approve the fiscal 2013 budget.

A public hearing on the budget is tentatively scheduled for May 8 at Hagerstown Community College, and the budget is typically approved later in May. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Personnel requests

The following is a list of personnel requests being sought in Washington County government. The costs include wages and benefits, for a total of $432,696:

  • $144,860 — Three full-time emergency call takers (Emergency Services).
  • $56,550 — One full-time public safety information-technology specialist (Sheriff’s office: Patrol).
  • $71,590 — One full-time program director (Sheriff: Home Detention/Day Reporting Program).
  • $46,060 — One full-time deputy (Sheriff: Home Detention/Day Reporting Program).
  • $48,045 — One full-time senior office associate (Transit).
  • $18,511 — Upgrade part-time office associate to full-time (Airport).
  • $15,830 — Increase part-time wages (Election Board).
  • $30,540 — Increase part-time wages (Emergency Services: Special Ops).
  • $710 — Increase overtime wages (Emergency Services: Wireless Communication)
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