July 5, 2012
Photo by Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson asks if eliminating two correctional officer positions for the county jail will result in overtime for other sheriff's office employees. The positions were dropped Tuesday to make room for a chief of staff position in the sheriff's office.
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JONESBORO — Two of the 32 corrections officer positions Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough said he needed in February were eliminated at his behest this week. The positions were dropped Tuesday by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners so the sheriff can get a civilian chief of staff position for his administration. Kimbrough said the loss of the corrections officer positions were a small price to pay to get the chief of staff position that he wants. He also said the county has to make “compromises” to properly run the sheriff’s office and the jail. “Two positions is not difficult to absorb,” said Kimbrough. “I think it would have been difficult if I had come back before the board and asked to abolish eight positions or 10 positions. Then I think you’d have a real question on your hands. Two positions? Two positions isn’t going to hurt us, but will allow me to expand my administration.” Kimbrough’s request to eliminate two corrections officer positions for the county jail reverses just slightly a move he tried to make in February when he asked commissioners to create 60 new positions in his office so he could reduce overtime payments. The sheriff’s office was going over budget on deputy overtime costs and the overruns were projected to reach $4.6 million when the positions were requested. The corrections officers were part of that request and the Commission approved it in March. The chief of staff position will be “responsible for managing the majority of all civilian positions within the sheriff’s office [and] managing all seized funds in the accounting division within the sheriff’s office,” said county Human Resources Director Renee Bright. Kimbrough and County Manager Wade Starr told commissioners earlier this year that a staffing study done in the 1990s showed 250 corrections officers would be needed to properly run the jail. The sheriff’s office has only 167 correction officer positions at this time. Kimbrough said he still has 24 corrections officer positions to fill from the slots created earlier this year. So, will the loss of two corrections officer positions mean overtime for other officers? That is a question Commissioner Michael Edmondson wanted an answer to. “Should we expect more overtime forthcoming?” Edmondson asked. Kimbrough said overtime will not happen. Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said Kimbrough still has to keep a promise he made earlier this year to stop going over budget if he got new positions in office. “He made a commitment to us that he would not be charging any more overtime and that was the reason why we gave them to him in the first place,” said Bell. “It’s perfectly all right [to trade correction officer positions for a chief of staff]. He’s within his rights as the sheriff as long as he keeps that commitment.”