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Pierce County Council votes to lay off up to 16 jail guards

jailTACOMA — The Pierce County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to approve a $3 million budget for the county jail that includes laying off up to 16 corrections officers starting Oct. 2.

The council, however, set aside $60,000 for incentives that could lead to possible early retirement of some Pierce County Jail guards, which could result in the saving of one or two of the 16 jobs overall, a county spokesman said.

The council also encouraged the sheriff to work with the Corrections Guild to allow for job sharing, part-time furloughs and retirement incentives to try to reduce some of the cuts.

The reductions were needed in order to help overcome a $5 million budget deficit for the jail, which has lost contracts from some cities for housing their inmates.

“This is a major loss in jail revenue caused by the recession combined with efforts to run jails as profit enterprises,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said. “This revenue loss resulted in a very large budget problem, which, in turn ,prompted the proposed layoffs of 16 corrections deputies”  (10 additional positions were eliminated through attrition earlier this year.)

“I do not wish to layoff these deputies but the financial situation is the driving factor. I appreciate that the County Council was able to provide some funds to assist with anyone who wants to choose early retirement to allow those who will serve longer to stay employed,” Pastor said.

“I will continue to work with our personnel and their bargaining units to see if there is any way we can lessen the blow.  I hope to hire some of these people back as vacancies occur in the coming year.”

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