Article Published June 25, 2011
Plan to let sheriff run jail passes second readingBy Trevor Anderson
Spartanburg County Council voted unanimously to pass the second reading of an ordinance that hands control of the county jail to Sheriff Chuck Wright on July 1.
By law, council has to wait seven days before it can hold its third and final vote. It will hold that meeting next Saturday at 9 a.m., according to County Administrator Glenn Breed.
On Monday, council voted to approve a budget for the new fiscal year that eliminated $2.6 million in slated jail employee overtime costs by transferring all powers and duties related to the jail to Wright.
Wright, who was elected in 2005, takes over for Larry Powers, the jail's director for the past 29 years.
Wright had said previously that he planned to hire 38 people, including 25 new jail positions allocated by council along with already vacant jobs.
The sheriff's salary would jump by $50,000 to $155,530 as a result of the change.
Five members of his command team also will receive pay bumps in exchange for taking on duties at the jail in addition to their work with the sheriff's office. The increased salaries and fringe benefits will cost the county $145,000 annually, while the 25 new jail positions with fringe benefits will run $945,000.
Before giving his approval at the first reading, Councilman Michael Brown sought an assurance from Wright that he would work to bring diversity to his command team.
Brown said Friday he was satisfied with the sheriff's response.
Councilman David Britt said the second reading was passed with no opposition from the public.
At Wright's request, all jail funding will be earmarked instead of coming from the general fund.
The switch in jail command follows years of council grappling with jail overtime costs far exceeding budgeted amounts.
The heavy use of overtime was necessitated by a jail employee turnover rate of as much 40 percent annually, which has been attributed to long hours and difficult working conditions.