HERMANN — Gasconade County Sheriff Mark W. Williams next week will ask for overtime pay for his deputies — or authorization to hire additional deputies — to make up for a staff …
HERMANN — Gasconade County Sheriff Mark W. Williams next week will ask for overtime pay for his deputies — or authorization to hire additional deputies — to make up for a staff being depleted by low pay and long hours.
On the department’s Facebook, the sheriff Monday announced that he would be seeking overtime pay for his deputies when he meets with the County Commission Thursday, Aug. 6. Absent the overtime pay, Williams said he would be forced to consider hiring part-time deputies to take up the slack created by the departure of deputies to better-paying positions in other counties.
In an interview with the Gasconade County Republican, Williams Monday afternoon said the staffing situation was becoming dire. “If I lose one more, I’d consider myself to be at critical mass,” he said.
It’s unclear how willing the County Commission will be to grant overtime pay. As a practice, county government does not give overtime pay; rather, the practice is to grant compensatory time off for hourly employees. However, there is precedence for paying overtime for sheriff’s deputies, with the most recent instance being the payout about three years ago of a substantial amount of money for overtime accumulated by staff members of former Sheriff Randy Esphorst. At the time it approved the payout, the Commission said it did not want to establish a practice of paying overtime.
But, as Williams explained to The Republican, the situation has developed to the point where the remaining deputies are pressed into putting in additional hours.
There is no particular reason for the dwindling roster of road deputies, the sheriff said. While there is a normal loss of personnel to better-paying jobs elsewhere, there is also a loss that comes about as a result of change in the sheriff’s position. Indeed, Williams will be Gasconade County’s top cop only until the results of the November General Election are certified. With no Democrat seeking the office, the winner essentially will be decided in the Aug. 4 Republican Party Primary Election which has Shawn Mayberry facing Scott Eiler. But rather than appoint the GOP primary winner to the sheriff’s office, the Commission decided to wait until after the General Election balloting — just on the off-chance a write-in candidate should emerge.
Williams said a change in the top position usually is accompanied by a chance in the roster of deputies. “Anytime you have a turnaround in administration, a lot of them will start heading for the door,” the sheriff said.
Preparing to leave Tuesday for a vacation, Williams Monday afternoon said he had not spoken with any of the three commissioners about his plan to seek funds for his deputies. He said that before he left on vacation he hoped to advise Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel of the forthcoming request. The sheriff said he's hopeful the Commission will agree to the overtime pay request.
“If it comes down to it and I have to start hiring some part-time guys, then that’s what I’ll have to do,” Williams said. Part-time experienced deputies — with some working perhaps as little as a day or two a week — might be the only option available to the department, he said. Williams pointed out the hiring pool for Gasconade County is extremely shallow.
“I’ve got — if I’m lucky — two potential applicants,” Williams said. And, he said, those applicants, if hired, likely would require a certain amount of time for training before they would be able to patrol on their own.
While an infusion of overtime pay might ease the crush in the short term, it won’t solve the problem that the next occupant of the sheriff’s office will face: How to keep the rank of deputies from slipping away to better-paying jobs after they’ve been trained here.
“A lot of it’s just money,” Williams said. “The guys are going to go where the money is.”
Williams is scheduled to make his request for overtime pay for deputies during the County Commission session that will be held Aug. 6 at 8:30 a.m. Owensville City Hall.