Next year, Sheriff Stacy Weber will likely approach the board of supervisors to hire two more.
MONTROSE — During their weekly meeting Tuesday morning, Lee County supervisors approved two new full-time correctional officers to work in the jail.
Budget director Cindy Renstrom estimated it would cost about $114,000, including benefits, to hire two new officers.
Sheriff Stacy Weber said two part-time correctional officers currently working in the jail soon would be promoted to full-time in light of the supervisors' decision.
The new officers likely will assist on the jail's night and midnight shifts because that is where they are most under-staffed.
“To me it's a no-brainer. We have to do something," supervisor Matt Pflug said of hiring more correctional officers. "We can't sit here and allow that to happen again in our jail. With a population of 100, or whatever, and you've got one CO on a shift, that's major problematic.”
At last week's supervisors meeting, Weber approached the board about hiring four correctional officers so one person could be added to each shift.
Tuesday, supervisors approved the hiring of two, with an understanding they would consider hiring two more if they thought it was economically feasible when budget talks begin in January.
"I'm not going to say no to anything," Weber said. "Two would definitely be progress because that would automatically fill that position on nights, so we'd have two."
Currently, 10 full-time correctional officers and four part-time officers are spread across four shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Weber has said the night and midnight shifts each only have one officer working.
If supervisors were to approve the hiring of more correctional officers next year, Weber said they would be cross-trained to handle duties outside the jail so they could provide security at Lee County's two courthouses and other properties.
To pay for the two correctional officers supervisors approved Tuesday, the county will use money collected in fees from the sheriff's department, which are deposited into the county's general fund.
Renstrom said the sheriff's department collected about $287,000 in fees last year and is anticipated to bring in more than $458,000 next year.
"People sue everybody," Weber said of the fees his department collects. "As long as there's people, there's going to be actions to be served by this department."