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Erie County Sheriff cautiously optimistic about 2013 Budget impact on county detention center

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Buffalo: Erie County Sheriff cautiously optimistic about 2013 Budget impact on county detention center
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Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is speaking out about cuts to the 2013 County Budget passed by the legislature. YNN's Kevin Jolly talked with Howard about the impact that could have on staffing at the County Holding Center, which has been struggling with the issue for years.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — Tuesday, the Erie County Legislature passed a series of budget cuts that eliminated a proposed 3.4 percent property tax from County Executive Mark Poloncarz's proposed budget.

"We talked about what would happen if these cut that were passed. It's going to create a multimillion dollar hole in my budget and we're going to have to deal with it," said Poloncarz.

Poloncarz say the cuts could mean cutting parks programs, funding for cultural and arts programs, road repairs, and overtime at the county holding center.

"I have a pretty good commitment from the county that we're going to hire, continue hiring, keep our staffing levels up to what they should be. As long as that's the case, we can work with less overtime," said Sheriff Tim Howard.

Following a federal investigation into several suicides at the Erie County Detention Center, the county was ordered to make several improvements, including increasing staffing at the facility.

Howard says in the past, the overtime was critical in filling staffing needs at the jail. Now with overtime likely to be cut, Howard is hoping the 30 new officers mandated by the state will help beef up staffing at the detention center.

"Is it cheaper to hire 30 people or is it cheaper to have the overtime?" asked YNN.

"The former executive was right with what he said, it was cheaper to pay overtime when you had time and a half when the benefits packages are about 50 percent of the salary and it was a short term need – it was cheaper to pay overtime," said Howard.

Poloncarz say he plans to veto the $195,000 the legislature added to the budget.

Meantime, Howard says he plans to begin hiring the new officers for the detention center at the beginning of the new year.

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