MENOMINEE — The Menominee County’s Sheriff’s Department has requested two new full-time positions. This request was considered at the county personnel meeting Wednesday, where the Personnel Committee voted unanimously to recommend the request’s approval at the next county board meeting.

The Sheriff’s Department currently has three part-time positions that Sheriff Kenny Marks and Undersheriff Mike Holmes have requested to turn into two full-time positions. One of the part-time positions is currently filled, but the other two positions are vacant.

Marks and Holmes told the committee they believe converting the three part-time positions into two full-time positions would help the department keep its overtime payout under budget during the next budget year. 

The overtime budget is about 70 percent used up for the current budget year. At the rate the Sheriff’s Department is using its overtime, County Administrator Jason Carviou said he projects it will spend $153,000 spent in overtime this year.

Carviou said the trend for the past three years reveal the amount of overtime the Sheriff’s Department uses has been increasing and continues to do so.

One reason for the increased overtime is the department’s inability to fill the part time positions, which means the full-time employees are working longer hours to cover those shifts. 

Carviou stated that part-time positions are not efficient in the current economy. There are plenty places of employment throughout Marinette, Menominee and the surrounding areas, so better-paying full-time positions are easy for potential applicants to find. 

“The sheriff’s office has been noticing when a part-time position is filled, the new hire will be sent off to training, which we pay for, and then they move on to a full-time position somewhere else,” Carviou said. “We basically have not been able to fill a part-time position for any extended amount of time for quite some time.”

“What we’re getting at is, part-time positions are no longer efficient... It’s just not what people are looking for,” Carviou said.

Marks said he would prefer to have part-time employees for a number of reasons, including the flexible schedule and hours they can work and being able to “try them out” before they become union members. However, with the current economy part-time positions cannot realistic be filled.

The county could potentially pay out less overtime if it chooses to convert the three part-time positions to two full-time positions. 

“I don’t use the word ‘save,’ I use the words ‘use differently’ “ Holmes said. “We will still use that money, but it will be used better. It gives our employees time to go home without working overtime.”

Because the department goes over the amount budgeted for overtime, the money to pay for it comes from elsewhere in the budget, Marks explained. 

“It’s poor use of that money. It’s a waste of that money on time-and-a-half, when we could be paying for those hours straight time,” Marks said.

Holmes said the overtime levels are high, especially considering the employees have families they would like to go home to. Working so much overtime is also a safety hazard and takes a toll on the employees’ health, Holmes said.

Marks later said the current situation requires the employees to work mandatory overtime, because shifts cannot go unfilled. 

“They just want to go home to their families,” he said. “It’s forced overtime, but it takes a toll on the employees and their families.”

Carviou said he believes the sheriff’s budget can handle the proposal.

“When I do these projections, I make the most conservative projection, meaning most expensive projection, possible,” Carviou said. He said he took into account that each of the potential new full-time employees took the most expensive insurance and retirement options. If one of the newly hired full-timers chose lesser benefits or does not use all their sick time, the projected costs of making the positions full-time would be lessened.

“The unknown is how much money we will actually save on overtime,” Carviou said.

Holmes said after adding the two new positions the only overtime the department should have would be transport and unforeseeable situations. However, he said he is confident the county would save money with the decision.

“I have a plan, I believe we can get it done at what it is costing us now,” Holmes said.

“I would like to see the board go this route,” Carviou said. “Try it for one budget year, 2019-2020 and see what it does to the overtime.”

The personnel committee voted unanimously in favor of recommending the full county board to approve the Sheriff’s Department’s request.