Eagle County sheriff eyes a dozen new employees | VailDaily.com

Eagle County sheriff eyes a dozen new employees

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” When Sheriff Joe Hoy sits down with the Eagle County, Colorado Board of Commissioners this week to review his budget, he expects the discussion to focus on money, not conflicting studies on the Sheriff’s Office.

‘”I do not anticipate this to become a study on which study is right,” Hoy said.

The county hired Lafayette-based Voorhis Associates in December 2007 to conduct a staffing and efficiency study of the Sheriff’s Office. Consultants recommended more staff and some technology upgrades for the department, echoing some concerns Hoy said he’s had for several years.

The commissioners and county staff asked for a second opinion from consultants Joseph Brann and Associates. The California-based company criticized the initial report.

But Hoy said he’s not going to comment on the study when he meets with the commissioners next week and has based his budget off the recommendations from the Voorhis study.

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“That (study) has no validity, we’re sticking to the Voorhis study.” Hoy said. “To me this is definitely about numbers and money.”

Hoy is proposing between 10 and 12 new employees be hired in phases ” a recommendation he made based on information in the Voorhis study, he said.

Several of the new employees would go to staffing the $24-million expansion of the justice center, Hoy said. The budget also includes a proposal for two new patrol deputies and an increased control room staff.

“We requested that we do it in increments instead of trying to bring the new staffing on all at once,” Hoy said. “That way when the new wing opens we’ll have a fully trained detention staff.”

Funding for the controversial Justice Center expansion ” that will cost about $38 million after interest ” was approved by the commissioners in September.

Commissioner Sara Fisher said the economy could play a factor in what gets approved.

“Nothing is determined at this time, but organizationally we are incredibly mindful of numbers of new employees,” Fisher said. “If we have a downturn economically, additional sacrifices could have to be made.”

Fisher said it was too early to pinpoint how many new employees, if any, she expected the sheriff’s department to request.

County officials have discussed the sheriff’s office budget for almost a year. Last year, the commissioners questioned the efficiency of the department’s operations and asked Hoy to cut some costs ” particularly the office’s overtime pay.

The Voorhis study also suggested the department could be more efficient by updating technology to save manpower and reorganizing officers and employees in ways that reflected the busiest times and locations.

The Sheriff’s Office was working toward a plan to implement some of the recommendations, particularly related to technology, Hoy said.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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