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Sheriff to add 4 jailers

By DANIEL HERDA - dherda@h-ponline.com

The Huntington County Council approved appropriations as well as adding four new jailers to the Huntington County Jail on Thursday.

The Huntington County Sheriff’s Department currently has 16 jailers, according to Sheriff Terry Stoffel, who said a jail inspector wrote up the department earlier this year for being understaffed. With the new jailers, the ranks will be raised to 20.

He added that with the county housing Level 6 felons, who would usually be housed in the Indiana Department of Corrections before the law changed earlier this year, a burden has been put on the jail staff.

Stoffel also said that there were a few times that the jail’s monitors were not being watched because the entire jail staff had to deal with an incident. With the four new jailers, there will be more hands on deck to not only keep the monitors watched 24 hours a day, but help keep everyone safe. He also cited an incident back in August where a jail inmate hung himself.

“We had two people doing life-saving techniques on that inmate and during that time the monitors were not being watched,” Stoffel said. “And with those Level 6’s we have a more serious clientele. They can stay here up to two years. So we went to the council, we went to the commissioners, and educated them on it.”

The salaries and benefits to add the four new jailers totals approximately $140,000, according to Huntington County Auditor Cindy Yeiter.

Yeiter said funds to finance the four jailers will come from the county’s Local Income Tax fund.

“The council has appropriated that and it doesn’t have to go to the Department Local Government and Finance for approval,” Yeiter said.

Another change that will occur in 2018 how Emergency Dispatch will be paid for.

Before the legislation changed this year, Dispatch was paid out of the County General fund, with the City of Huntington paying their potion of Dispatch through an agreement with the county. But now the city’s portion will come directly from the LIT when the state gives the county the 2018 funds to distribute.

When the LIT funds are distributed to the taxing units, which are Huntington County, the City of Huntington, and other towns in the county, a potion goes into something called PSAP – which pays for the Emergency Dispatch bills.

“Now when we get out Local Income Tax money that can come right off the top,” Yeiter said. “Because we distribute it to all the taxing units, so therefore we can put in there the amount of money that we need to cover the dispatch, because dispatch does the whole county. Then the rest of the money goes out to the taxing units.”

Yeiter said since PSAP handles paying the Emergency Dispatch bills the taxing units are “not losing anything.”

“We can take this PSAP money off the top and then distribute the rest,” Yeiter said. “The taxing units are not losing anything, it’s just in a way more fair to the all the taxpayers now.”

The county council will have its final meeting for 2017 on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. inside the Huntington County Courthouse.