Commission OKs further progression on Sheriff's Department upgrades

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Construction on the Osceola County Sheriff's Department is moving forward with a design option that could create 1,000 square feet of new space and 500 square feet of renovated space.

During the Oct. 7 Osceola County Board of Commissioners meeting, Undersherrif Justin Halladay spoke to commissioners about two renovation options he received from Landmark Design Group. Although several of his needs have been met, there are a few details he would like to change.

The first proposal has a projected cost of $275,000, while the second option's estimated cost is $477,000 for more space, which Halladay deems unnecessary. The first option fixes the problems of space and security — by giving the department a new lobby, conference area and the ability to use the basement for storage rather than deputy work areas — without adding additional square footage that is not needed, he said.

No vote was needed to allow Halladay to pursue the option, but commissioners all agreed with the decision.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a motion to allow Osceola County Equalization Director Rosie McKinstry to hire a part-time property description clerk at a pay level equivalent to a part-time employee who has worked for the department for three years.

After advertising for the position, an individual who worked in the position years ago applied. McKinstry said the applicant has prior experience and knowledge and will not need to be trained.

Commissioners stated the county policy that says employees who are gone from the position for more than one year should be re-employed as a new employee and at the base level of pay, but can waive the policy when they feel necessary. They also stated the policies are in need of review.

McKinstry asked commissioners if they could recognize her seven years of experience, although she has not been in the position for two years. The base pay rate would be $12.56, while the pay for an employee at a three-year level is $14.04, she added. The three-year level is about 50 cents less than the employee was making at the time of her resignation.

In other business, Osceola County Commission on Aging Executive Director Scott Schryer addressed the commissioners and discussed the organizations site located in Tustin, which is available for rent by the public, and told commissioners he wishes to stop offering rental opportunities.

Schryer said the building is rarely used for rentals, and when it is, either he or another staff member has to monitor the event and take the time to make sure the kitchen and other assets are safely secured. If kitchen equipment is used and damaged, it can not only cost thousands to replace or repair, but it also shuts down the process used for home delivered meals and meals at congregate sites, Schryer said.

In addition, the rental fee is $25 plus the cost of insurance, which can range between $200 and $300. In the five calls per year he receives to rent out the site, Schryer said most are turned away because they are not allowed alcohol on the premises. Others are turned away from the cost.

Commissioners debated further action, with some saying they would not want to approve Schryer's request only to have an opportunity come along in the near future. However, they asked Schryer for a list of other options to secure the site and statistics of how often the site has been rented. No action was taken.