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Lake County Council frees up hiring constraints

Updated: October 17, 2012 6:46AM



CROWN POINT — Department heads no longer have to come before the Lake County Council to fill vacancies within their ranks.

The Lake County Council approved two ordinances Tuesday that will make it possible for department heads to fill empty positions as long as the county does not owe the exiting employee benefits or other payments.

The move will allow Sheriff John Buncich to fill 11 vacancies at the Lake County Jail, including eight correction officers and one sergeant. It will also allow for a handful of other positions across departments including the courts and prosecutor’s office.

“Giving officeholders opportunities to fill their positions in vital,” said Councilman Michael Repay, D-Hammond.

However, the move does not address the 65 correctional officers the Department of Justice has mandated be hired for the jail, nor the 18 new correctional officers the sheriff requested as part of a compromise with the DOJ to reduce the overall number of correctional officers needed.

Officials took no action on the request to fund the 18 officer positions.

Councilman Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, said he needs more time to review the deal with the DOJ before signing off on it. He said the DOJ originally wanted the county to hire 18 new correctional officers this quarter in exchange for backing off its position that the county ultimately must hire 65. But he said it appears the county can do that hiring in 2013, instead.

Niemeyer said it is still possible the DOJ could require more officers.



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