Responding to a previous discussion at a Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting, Sheriff Dave Scott appeared at the meeting this week to explain why the Sheriff's Department had a high amount of overtime and comp time during the first part of the fiscal year, which began July 1.
"There had been a lot of overtime but there's a good reason for all of it," Scott said at the Tuesday morning meeting.
About 112 hours of overtime was generated for covering holidays. There was also overtime resulting from an "active shooter" training program for deputies.
There was a jailer who was on a long period of sick leave at the same time a part-time jailer resigned. There also have been cases requiring the use of multiple staff members working simultaneously, particularly a combination burglary and arson incident in Quimby that followed an investigation and arrest on charges of child abuse.
Barb Staver of the Law Enforcement Center added that there are sometimes cases when there is a court order to transport someone being moved from one facility to another. In one recent case, a judge ordered a woman to be transported from a private facility in Storm Lake to a Sioux City hospital. Since the person was committed for a time to the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, it was assumed the woman was a Cherokee County resident.
Her actual county of residence, what is legally referred to as a county of legal settlement, is Dallas County. Under the law, a person does not change county of legal settlement while receiving assistance that is billed to a county. A person must reside in a county for a year without receiving any such assistance before the county of legal settlement changes, so neither Cherokee County nor Buena Vista County was technically responsible for transporting the woman to or from the Sioux City hospital. However, as a practical matter, Cherokee County cannot ignore a court order.
"I don't want to be in contempt of court," Staver explained.
Cherokee County will bill Dallas County for the transportation expense, but it is not known when or if that bill will be paid. Also, by law, the county cannot bill more than $15 per hour for transportation, which does not cover the expense.
Scott said that there are adjustments being made to reduce overtime expenses such as requiring employees to take time off before an upcoming disaster drill, but some overtime cannot be avoided.
Mark Leeds, supervisor, said the board was considering the possibility that the county needed another deputy to avoid more overtime.
"We should be OK, now. Things just popped up," Scott said.