New county position open

Budget savings from staff vacancies in the Ward County Sheriff’s Department will be used to fund a human resources director position that the county hopes to fill by May 1.

The Ward County Commission last month directed department heads to shake out some extra dollars from their budgets to pay for hiring a director for the remainder of this year. The county will be able to budget for the position going forward, but the decision to hire for this year didn’t come about until early this year when the county’s human resources coordinator announced her retirement at the end of February. By then, the 2018 budget was already in place.

The county commission plans to set up a new human resources department, headed by a director, with part-time assistance from a payroll technician/senior accountant in the auditor’s office. Future staffing for the department will be reviewed when the 2019 budget is drafted.

In a memo to the commission, Sheriff Bob Barnard reported that two vacancies for patrol deputy during January and February saved the county $24,151. The Ward County jail has had two open correctional officer positions during the first two months of this year, creating a savings of $21,705. One of the correctional officer positions is not expected to be filled until the jail renovations are completed in August. That saves another $21,705 to bring the total to $67,561.

“It’s vacancies that have already occurred and the anticipated vacancy until the jail construction is completed, so we are comfortable those funds will be available,” Barnard told commissioners.

Other than squeezing money from department budgets, the commission’s option for obtaining some of the needed funds involved transferring money into the general fund from a tax deed overage account. The county builds up the account whenever revenue from foreclosed property sales exceeds the taxes and obligations owing. However, the commission chose to use the unspent funds in the sheriff’s department.

The human resources position will be advertised immediately at a starting salary of $72,650 a year. That is above the minimum of $65,737 in the salary range, reflecting the commission’s desire to hire an experienced person. The application deadline is March 31.