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More overtime approved for Burnet County jailers

Burnet County Commissioners Court, March 6, 2023

Burnet County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Alan Trevino (right) explains to the Burnet County Commissioners Court that the BCSO will need more overtime funding to complete mandatory training for six new jailers. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Burnet County Commissioners Court approved additional overtime funding for mandatory jailer training during a special meeting on Monday, March 6. The money will bring six new jailers up to speed on state training requirements and help alleviate understaffing and overtime budget issues at the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.

It could be one of the last times such funding is approved for county employees after the Commissioners Court voted to do away with overtime on Feb. 14. The new policy of compensatory time in lieu of overtime is expected to be implemented in June, changing the training schedule for new Sheriff’s Office staff.

“When (the commissioners) passed the (new overtime policy) on February the fourteenth, that you had to do your training (on the clock), we had nine people who would not be compliant on that,” BCSO Chief Deputy Alan Trevino told DailyTrib.com.

Trevino informed the court that the Sheriff’s Office had successfully trained three of the nine deputies, reducing the need for additional overtime funding. In the future, all training will be conducted on the clock, negating the need for additional funding. The remaining prospective jailers were in the midst of training, which they had to complete within 45 days of starting their jobs, according to current policy.

“We’ve changed the process,” Trevino explained. “The training will all be done on the clock, and we’ll be extending the training period by about three weeks to get it all done. It’s a matter of getting fully staffed, and we are moving in the right direction for that.”

Jailers are required to complete 120 hours of state training through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Each of the remaining new hires has completed their training to varying degrees, making it difficult to gauge the exact amount of overtime funds needed to meet state requirements.

The Commissioners Court approved a maximum of $17,622.48 for the overtime as a worst-case scenario number, according to County Auditor Karin Smith.

The issue of overtime and understaffing was addressed during the court’s Jan. 24 meeting after a report from Smith showed the Burnet County Jail had spent $57,945.44 on overtime when only $30,000 had been budgeted. That amounted to 193.5 percent of its allotted overtime budget with the year only 38 percent complete at the time. The jail and telecommunications department both fall under the umbrella of Sheriff’s Office management.

The jail was down 13 jailers at the time of Smith’s report. The personnel shortage led to staff taking on more shifts and covering for each other, which led to massive increases in accrued overtime.

“In the big picture, we’re just trying to get a handle on overtime and what’s causing it, because it’s exceeding the budgeted amount that was set up for it,” Judge James Oakley told DailyTrib.com after the meeting. “The same thing would happen if it was utility bills or fuel. It’s just a line item where the expenditures are greatly exceeding what was budgeted for.”

dakota@thepicayune.com