Committee supports sheriff’s request

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino addresses personnel requests at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee on Monday supported Sheriff Richard Giardino’s request to create three new sheriff’s department employees — including two deputies — but he faces the long budget process to see them finalized.

Giardino told supervisors he needs to beef up the road patrol to keep up with a 533-square mile coverage area.

“Any impact now, I want to get ahead of the curve,” he said of his personnel situation. “We have extra money in our payroll.”

He said his department currently anticipates over $400,000 for 2017 in revenue from housing inmates from outside Fulton County at the Fulton County Jail. He said such revenue has exceeded 2016 levels.

The committee voted to create two new $56,745 deputy positions for the Law Enforcement Division. The full board would decide later whether to include the positions in the 2018 county budget. The start rate for the deputy position is $37,830 with $18,915 in added benefits.

“I really think the road patrol should take precedence,” Giardino said.

Supervisors on Monday also voted to create one new civil clerk position in the sheriff’s department. The roughly $45,000-per-year position will pay about $22 per hour, Giardino said. That position would augment an office with a chief clerk and a civil clerk.

“You’ve been very supportive for the first 20 months [of his term],” Giardino said. “I’ve been very appreciative of that.”

The sheriff said his department is currently funded for five road sergeants, two road corporals and 11 road deputies. It allows for four positions on a squad and two on a swing shift that will be implemented in the near future. Giardino said the 2018 requests allow two additional deputies so he can run three patrols and a supervisor on a regular basis.

Giardino said the sheriff’s department currently has one deputy for every 20 square miles. He said the Gloversville Police Department has 35 positions covering five square miles. He said the Johnstown Police Department has 24 officers for four square miles. He said calls for service for the first six months of 2017 were: sheriff’s department — 6,669; GPD— 9,129; JPD — 3,981; and state police — 579.

Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski, board chairman, voted no on both new deputy positions. Johnstown 4th Ward Supervisor William Waldron voted no on one of them. Kinowski noted the county has two union contracts to negotiate.

“With our financial position right now and what it’s going to look like in 2018, I can’t support it,” Kinowski said.

Giardino told the committee that county residents can “blame me” if taxes increase, but he “doesn’t take lightly” the economic impact of his department on the budget.

Other supervisors, however, were fully in favor of the sheriff’s deputies requests.

“I believe the deputies are our front line on the road,” said Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charles Potter.

Northampton Supervisor James Groff said he would “at least like to see these [requests] go to the budget process.”

“The role of local government is to keep people safe,” said Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Gregory Young.

Johnstown 1st Ward Supervisor Richard Handy said it shouldn’t have to take a deputy 45 minutes to answer an emergency call.

“People who live in the towns deserve to have the same safety as we do in the city,” he said.

Caroga Supervisor Beth Morris, who said she has personally responded to situations in the dark in Caroga Lake, supports more deputies.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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