Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr. has provided DeltaplexNews.com with a copy of his proposed plan in response to Jefferson County Ordinance No. 2020-31, passed by members of the Jefferson County Quorum Court last Tuesday evening. Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson has approved the sheriffs plan.
“I think we can agree that it is very difficult to truly forecast the future financial stability of Jefferson County to an exact, we all as elected officials recognize that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will have a negative economic impact on our county,” said Woods. “However, we are not certain about is how significant that impact will be. What I am certain about is that with no current public safety exemption with regard to the aforementioned ordinance, a 30 percent workforce reduction in the form of a furlough would leave our jail and enforcement operations that are already severely deficient in personnel unable to operate. We are already at a dangerously low staffing level due to improper funding. We must have adequate staffing in order to continue to serve this community, maintain public safety, and protect the employees who risk their lives daily. Moreover, management of dollars for personnel cannot be achieved successfully without the necessary personnel.”
Under the circumstances, we believe our proposal would still enable us to fulfill our constitutional duties of the Office of Sheriff. A furlough of employees under my purview would not only affect physical operations but have an immediate impact of public safety with an even greater loss of revenue.
We employed the following methodology to formulate our alternative to the 30 percent workforce furlough reduction:
Determined the value of a “30 percent personnel reduction” through August 31, 2020, for all of departments under the purview of the sheriff to be$478,394.70.
- There are 144 slots in the sheriff’s departments’ slots under the current 2020 budget. Of those, 42 represent civilian / non-uniformed employees, or 29.2 percent.
- Those civilians gross salaries through August 31, 2020, came to $406,625.33, their Social Security Match to $31,106.84 and their APERS match to $40,662.53.
In a review of alternative options to avoid a furlough or layoffs of essential (uniformed) personnel and fulfill the essential duties of the Office of Sheriff, we have found that the Shared Work Program meets our needs at this current time.
We determined the cost reduction value of our alternative proposal to be $522,300.34.
- The Shared Work Program value was determined to be 20 percent of the furlough value as they would both be based on the same period, and reducing an eight hour / five day-per-week work week by one day a week represents a 20 percent reduction. Twenty percent of the $478,394.70 furlough value is $95,678.94.
- $150,000.00 has already been budgeted and approved for emergency vehicle purchases for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO). Under Amendment 78 of the Arkansas Constitution and A.C.A. § A.C.A. 14-78-101 et seq. Jefferson County is able to solicit proposals by public advertisement for interested financial entities to submit proposals for the financing of the acquisition of emergency vehicles for JCSO at the state contract award valued at $139,935.00. This would save a burden of that amount on JCSO budget.
- Acknowledge that furloughing the Juvenile Justice Education civilian staff would, cost about $286,686.40 in reimbursement value for the furlough period. Therefore the alternative plan will keep that reimbursement coming to the county for its intended purposes.
The proposal will, therefore, be at least $43,905.64 more beneficial to Jefferson County and our continued public safety needs and responsibilities than the 30 percent furlough. An application for the shared work program was submitted, accepted, and approved by Dr. Charisse Childers, Director for the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS). The shared work program is scheduled to begin Sunday, May 17, 2020.