Five new jobs included in 2019 Kent budget
Jobs will cost $451,076 in addition to 34 other jobs that will cost $2.8M.
Five new jobs at a cost of $451,076 were included in the proposed 2019 Kent County budget.
These new jobs are in addition to the approved six new officers costing $705,000, as well as the 26 possible new positions costing $2.1 million awaiting approval Sept. 27.
The county board of commissioners will vote Nov. 29 to adopt the 2019 budget proposal.
The fiscal department is requesting two financial analysts at a cost of $157,689 and a contract compliance specialist for the purchasing division at a cost of $90,899.
The sheriff’s department is requesting a full-time school officer sergeant, vehicle and equipment at a cost of $137,653, as well as an emergency dispatch officer at a cost of $64,835.
Stephen Duarte, county fiscal services director, said he requested two full-time financial analysts because of the department’s increased complexity and volume of financial reporting requirements and account maintenance needs.
These added positions would alleviate the workload for others in the department, several of whom have routinely been working 60 to 80 hours per week, Duarte said.
With continued expansion of county programs, he said it becomes more difficult for department staff to meet demands and finish the annual fiscal report on time.
“I can’t say to the state June 30th I didn’t have time to get the audit done,” Duarte said. “So, I get the audit done. If that means you have to give up your vacation, if that means you have to work overtime, that’s what we do.”
A staff member told Duarte they did not work during a recent vacation for the first time in four years.
Duarte said the former deputy director of finance arrived every day at 6 a.m. and worked 80 hours per week for 10 months straight.
“We’re having unreasonable overtime expectations,” Duarte said.
He said this is leading to staff burnout, turnover and subpar service. He said other department heads have noticed the negative change in service and have advised him to hire additional staff.
Wayman Britt, the county administrator, said a number of county positions were eliminated when the last recession hit. He said there was a committee that analyzed every employee request and denied all except those absolutely necessary.
“There’s been a pent-up demand for several years in all these departments,” Britt said.
He said every department is working to keep employee costs low in advance of the next recession. However, departments need to remain legally compliant as programs expand, he said.
Duarte said the fiscal department had 41 positions in 2008. After adding two in 2017, there now are 34 positions.
Duarte said a reduction in the use of contracted workers at high hourly rates would partially offset the estimated cost for the new positions.
The contract compliance specialist’s primary responsibilities would be to evaluate contracts, maintenance agreements and purchasing terms, providing legal support in negotiations, insurance management, performance, bond payment compliance and buyer duties, according to Calvin Brinks, county purchasing/fleet manager, in a request to the county.
The specialist would review contracts and also work as a county buyer.
This would allow the division to manage its contracts more quickly and allow buyers to focus on other acquisition opportunities, while freeing capacity for the county's corporate counsel office to focus on larger policy issues, liability and prevention.
Since early 2017, Brinks said the purchasing division has made procurement decisions on behalf of other county departments. In 2017, the division issued 270 solicitations and 2,864 purchase orders and agreements.
At the end of June, he said there was nearly $24 million in open purchase orders and agreements.
On top of also ensuring grant compliance for county agencies, the division managed a growing number of 2,319 credit card transactions.
Brinks said adding this position would allow staff to pursue more opportunities and would reduce the risk of executing unfavorable contracts, ultimately reducing costs for citizens and increasing business opportunities.
The cost will come from the county general fund.
The sergeant will be the second to oversee 11 resource officers working in 11 county school districts, according to county Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young.
After the recent approval of three new resource officers, she said another sergeant is needed to oversee those positions and six community policing deputies.
LaJoye-Young said overseeing the resource officers is difficult because they each work out of offices at their assigned school districts.
Due to U.S. mass school shootings, she said there are heightened concerns regarding school security and investigating potential threats of violence.
“With this, there is a greater need for proper and diligent supervision of our school resource officers,” LaJoye-Young said.
The request for a new emergency dispatcher is meant to offset the increased workload that came in 2017 from assuming 24-hour dispatch services for animal control using existing staff.
This agreement allowed citizens to deal with trained dispatch staff when seeking animal control services, which has better served the animal control division and saved costs over other staffing strategies, LaJoye-Young said.
The cost will be funded with $58,777 from the animal shelter budget and $6,058 from other agencies that utilize dispatch services.