PINCKNEYVILLE — Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis on Wednesday posted a statement to his office's official Facebook page, saying that he had to do “one of the hardest things an administrator has to do: send lay-off notices.”
Perry County Board on Monday voted to put a third budget proposal on display for the county, this one based on recommendations from Bruce DeLashmit of Bellwether LLC. DeLashmit was hired to consult on the county’s budget on April 23. On April 25, the board declared the county was in a state of financial emergency.
Among recommendations included in the new budget proposal was a requirement to cut 25 percent of the county’s labor expenses. The sheriff’s office budget was cut by $534,000.
The statement Bareis posted said he had hoped to go to a 32-hour work week in order to keep officers on the job, but the union, Fraternal Order of Police, voted that option down. The sheriff said even with the 32-hour work week, he would have had to lay off two people.
“It wasn’t going to work without the whole bargaining unit’s participation,” Bareis said in an interview Wednesday evening.
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He believes several employees were concerned about the negative impact a 32-hour week would have on retirement benefits.
“My hope is that in maybe five months we would be able to start adding hours and pull back a 40-hour work week,” Bareis said.
Because the union voted down the reduction in work hours, Bareis had to issue layoff notices, he said. As required by the collective bargaining agreement, seven part-time employees received notices. Another seven full-time employees — four patrol officers and three who work in the jail — also received notices.
“It’s just like letting family go, to some degree,” Bareis said.
His biggest concern is employee safety, he said. With only one officer working at a time, backup may not be immediately available.
“I’ve had some employees complain about that. They (the county board) give me so much money. I can’t make them give me money if the money’s not there,” Bareis said. “It’s going to be difficult. Bellwether believes this dynamic may have to stay in place until next July. We will be looking at this month by month.”