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Hamilton County Sheriff Cutting 10 Employees

Tana Weingartner
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil discusses laying off 10 deputies and other budgetary concerns.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says he's laying off 10 deputies, effective March 21.

The move is the result of funding cuts like last year's elimination of revenues from the Medicaid mangaed care sales tax and other declines in state funding over the past several years that affect county operations. County Commissioner Denise Driehaus points out state cuts to county government total $32 million annually over the last seven years.

Neil has been discussing possible layoffs for several months. Commissioners Driehaus and Todd Portune both made a point Tuesday afternoon of pointing out the sheriff's announcement was expected, not new.

"I have $5.5 million less this year than I had last year," Neil told reporters Thursday. "Last year we had a population of deputies in the office of 930 and we're going to slim down to approximately 800 deputies."

Attrition and retirements will account for much of the staffing reduction. The department instituted a hiring freeze in July, so no positions have been filled since that time. The current staffing level is approximately 896 deputies, according to a financial official.

The department is moving its electronic monitoring program under the probation department. The 16 electronic monitoring deputies will be reassigned. The 10 layoffs are to make room for those more senior deputies. Neil says he still needs to find room for reassigning the remaining six monitoring specialists.

Other department cuts may include reducing training to the required number of hours only and limiting overtime.

Neil says people may not notice a change right away but it will be noticeable over time. Townships that contract with the department for patrol cars won't be affected directly since they're paying for service. However, townships such as Crosby, Harrison and Whitewater which do not have contracts could be harder hit with fewer patrol cars on county roads.

Staff morale is also taking a hit, Neil says.

The 10 being let go include four from court services, three from enforcement, and three from administration. They were selected based on lack of seniority. Neil says he notified them now so they're able to make use of already earned vacation time, etc.

The sheriff also made a plea to newly installed Governor Mike DeWine to restore the state funding cuts to counties.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.