Board agrees to new position

Sheriff not at meeting to explain, request approved

District 2 Legislator Brian Sweet, left, District Legislator 3 Roy Dimond, Chairman Robert Headwell, Jr., right, during the Legisature meeting held Tuesday are shown. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

FONDA — During the Montgomery County Legislature’s special meeting held Tuesday, legislators expressed concern Sheriff Michael Amato was requesting a change in a current position and to shift money from the one vacant position into a new position and was not at the meeting to explain his request, leaving County Executive Matt Ossenfort to try and make sense of the request.

According to the requested resolution, the sheriff’s department will be going from 12-hour shifts to eight-hour shifts and to compensate for the changes, one person will be shifted to another position, leaving a spot vacant — the current deputy sheriff sergeant requested to go from the sergeant title to the position of deputy sheriff. Amato requested the remaining funds in the vacant sergeant line be used to fund the new deputy position.

“Do we know what the reasoning is for changing the shift?” asked District 2 Legislator Brian Sweet.

“The sheriff is returning to eight hour shifts, because of that change, he requested to remove the position of deputy sheriff sergeant and replace it with an additional deputy as a result of his changing the shift time,” said Ossenfort. “I have some understanding. I feel much more comfortable having the sheriff explain it, but what I would say is that there were some issues related to, according to the sheriff, the gaps in the days in which the deputies worked and this would address some of the issues that came up because of that. I know, certainly, the sheriff has some pretty strong opinions about this. This is more of a management decision on how to more effectively manage his work force.”

Legislators would have liked to hear more information from the sheriff, they said.

“Once again and this is kind of a unique situation. The sheriff certainly runs his office independently, he’s an elected official. He does not answer to us, except I think for where the budget is concerned,” said District 6 Legislator John Duchessi. “I really would like to hear more directly from the sheriff with the respect to his need and trying to understand exactly what it is he’s trying to achieve.”

Even so, the Legislators passed the resolution amending the 2018 operating budget and transferred $45,434 from the deputy sheriff sergeant line to the new deputy sheriff position.

Duchessi said he would support the request, but that it would be the last time he would accept this kind of resolution.