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Lewis County jail to add two state-mandated positions

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County is adding a pair of corrections officer positions at its jail to comply with state Commission of Correction requirements.

“This is obviously something that’s a necessity,” Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli said, noting the state agency could shut down the facility for noncompliance.

County legislators on Tuesday evening voted 10-0 to create two full-time corrections officer positions, albeit somewhat begrudgingly because the $21.10-per-hour positions were not included in the 2012 budget.

“These are the type of mandates that the taxpayers need to understand drive their taxes up,” County Manager David H. Pendergast said Wednesday.

The board also authorized the sheriff to move two part-time corrections officers into the new spots, then refill the part-time positions with new hires.

Mr. Pendergast said officials from the Commission of Correction, which oversees county jail operations statewide, requested the addition of four positions at the jail, but Sheriff Carpinelli was able to reach a compromise with them.

The two new positions are expected to cost $126,000 per year in salary and benefits, the county manager said.

“We’ve reached half of the 2 percent tax cap through the mandates of the state correction commission,” Mr. Pendergast said.

Sheriff Carpinelli said he understands the fiduciary concern but added that jail staffing is regulated by the state in order to ensure the safety of employees and inmates.

The first-year sheriff said Commission of Correction staffers plan to spend four days here in late June to meet with him and ensure the facility is in compliance, so he hopes to address any outstanding concerns before then.

County legislators on Tuesday also voted 7-3 to approve an update of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, with Legislators Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden, Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, and Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, opposed.

Mr. King suggested delaying a vote on the document, which establishes priorities for economic development in the county, so that legislators and officials from town and village governments can review it. He complained some parts of the county were not represented on the CEDS committee, which developed the plan.

Legislator Richard C. Lucas, R-Barnes Corners, chairman of the legislative Economic Development Committee, said the plan is basically a revision of one adopted several years ago and mirrors the county comprehensive plan, which was developed with extensive community input. A delay in plan adoption would cause county officials to miss the deadline for the current round of federal economic development funding, which could go toward redevelopment of the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper plant, he said.

The county Department of Economic Development and Planning was notified in March that it could not apply immediately for federal Economic Development Administration funding because the CEDS committee was past due in developing a five-year strategy update. The committee has worked over the past couple of months to rectify that deficiency.

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