Nacogdoches Co. commission misses detail for jailers

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Sometimes, lots of discussion can distract from important details. Nacogdoches County commissioners only thought they approved the hiring of additional jailers. The vote finally came today, more than two months after the sheriff posted the jobs and began hiring applicants.

"We've been discussing the sheriff's needs for weeks in budget workshops. Right now, the sheriff has around $100,000 of comp time and with that it's time and a half," said Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English.

The need for more help overshadowed the necessary official action. As it turns out the issue wasn't even on the agenda back in June. The auditor caught the mistake when applicant screening bills began rolling in.

The sheriff, unaware of the oversight, knew the positions had to be filled or face the State Jail Standards Commission. "If those inmate numbers spike you can't just go out and hire new jailers over night because of all the other legal requirements that it takes for a person to meet, operate, as a jailer," explained Sheriff Thomas Kerss.

Commissioners detected another miscalculation. They didn't factor in those spikes when budgeting jail personnel. "We didn't factor in enough employees to fill in,  so when someone took vacation or we had a jailer position that has to oversee somebody that's at the hospital, whatever, we didn't factor those factors in and in all reality, yes, he does not have the staff he needs," said English.

There's money for the new positions through this fiscal year. The auditor is recalculating next year's budget to find more than $380,000 in salaries and benefits.

Sheriff Kerss says jailers who have been working long hours and missing vacations could see some relief as early as next week. The new hires will begin as part timers and temporary workers.

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