Employee numbers are similar to other counties
BENTON - Despite a recent incident at the jail, Scott County commissioners say jail staffing levels are right in line with other area jails.
Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said during Tuesday's county commission meeting that two weeks ago and prior to an altercation at the jail July 26 in which a jailer received a fractured hand, he had asked presiding commissioners in Cape Girardeau, Stoddard, Mississippi and Butler counties for statistics on the number of law enforcement employees and the average number of prisoners held. "We feel no employee should be put at unnecessary risk," Priggel said.
"The commission's main concern is the safety and well being of its employees and the financial condition of the county," said Commissioner Jamie Burger.
Sheriff Bill Ferrell has on several occasions requested more personnel for the jail and warned commissioners that understaffing the jail would result in someone getting hurt. In a press release following the incident, Ferrell said it could have been much worse and is an example of how understaffing can affect safety.
Priggel said the area presiding commissioners reported an average of 96 prisoners per day, comparable to Scott County's average, and an average of 40 law enforcement employees. Scott County paid 42 employees in July from the law enforcement fund, according to Priggel.
Commissioners said after reviewing the numbers from the other counties, they think the Scott County Jail is comparable or even a little bit over average as far as staffing.
In other Scott County business:
* Robert Laseter reported on Monday's Scott County Consolidated Drainage District Number 2 meeting. "We're officially up and running I guess," said Laseter.
The Board of Supervisors elected their officers, picking Laseter for president and Mark Stallings for secretary-treasurer.
"We need some money - big time," said Laseter. "Where we going to get it?"
Laseter said the board is already getting phone calls to clean out ditches.
Priggel said the district is moving along much faster than he anticipated, but it will still take time for the district to set rates and gather enough tax revenue to begin any substantial projects.
* Commissioners accepted a bid of $1,295 from Software Hardware for a new E-911 center computer.
Bids were also returned from Clas Computers and Computer 21 in Cape Girardeau.
Although about $100 higher than the lowest bid, Joe Burton, Scott County E-911 administrator, recommended Software Hardware based on their service. "He's done work for me before and he's accessible when I need him," said Burton.
The purchase was a budgeted item.
* State Rep. Rob Mayer met with commissioners and advised legislators intend to try to override the governor's veto of Senate Bill 199 even though an override has only been done six or seven times in the state's history.
The bill, if put into effect, will bump the assessed valuation for second class counties up to $4.5 million from $3 million.
"It would probably save us $200,000 a year if we could stay a third class county," said Priggel, noting additional costs such as the requirement to both hire a county auditor and pay for yearly audits.
"We don't want to be forced into something we can't afford," said Burger.