Sheriff, BOCC bury the hatchet

Jail staffing remains a point of contention

The Moffat County Commissioners and Sheriff Buddy Grinstead had their first meeting since their public fallout over Grinstead hiring his son to mow the grass at the county jail.

Their meeting Monday lasted an hour before Grinstead broached the subject by asking the commissioners to define what they meant when they said he wasn't a team player because he didn't follow county policy when he hired his son.

Grinstead did not attend the meeting commissioners scheduled two weeks ago to confront him with allegations that he broke the county's nepotism policy, the equal employment opportunity policy, and hurt the county's insurability.

"County employees need to follow county policy that's in place for insurability. When you took office, we were on the edge of insurability and that's why these policies are in place," Commissioner Darryl Steele told Grinstead.

The county's insurance already is expensive, Steele said, and the commissioners plan to bid the insurance out before the next budget cycle.

But Grinstead defended his actions, saying sheriff's office policies supercede county policy.

Responding to the insurability argument, Grinstead said the county's insurance company has recommended that the jail hire more staff. Grinstead recently exchanged two full-time employees for five part-time employees, who work in the jail's master control center.

"Has putting five part-time people in place helped? You betcha. But we're still short two full-time people," Grinstead said.

Staffing at the jail long has been a point of contention between the commissioners and the Sheriff's Office. Grinstead has said repeatedly that he needs more staff, but the commissioners respond by saying the county budget can't fund any more positions.

"We can't afford to do that. If the jail fund grows, we could look at that in the future," Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

The county general fund is shelling out $300,000 to supplement the insufficient jail fund.

In the end, the commissioners and sheriff decided the county's elected officials need to develop county policies on which they all can agree.

"Until we get that congruent agreement from each department, you're going to have problems," Grinstead said.

"You're the sheriff. You're an elected official. You have the right to make those decisions. And that's behind us," Raftopoulos said.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com

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