Negotiations for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department union have entered the fact-finding stage.
“It (the contract proposal) went to the fact finder last Friday,” said Sheriff Steve Levorchick. “They should come back in 30 days with a ruling. It will either be settled or head to conciliation.”
The deputies are operating under a four-year old agreement. They had a three-year contract in place and then approved a one-year extension, Levorchick said.
The negotiations are just another element Levorchick tackles as he works to establish balance in his month-old administration.
Former Sheriff Robert Bratton left Sept. 23 to become the Genoa police chief. The Democratic Party central committee voted unanimously to appoint Levorchick to fill the rest of the term ending in December 2012.
“It’s been a busy month – but it’s been a good month,” Levorchick said.
That hectic schedule included rounding up bank robbers near Millbury and personally tackling a shoplifter at the Wal-Mart store near Port Clinton.
Administratively, he has put together a team of those who had his back as a road deputy. Levorchick has brought back retired deputy Jeff Hickman as his chief deputy and promoted road deputy Brad York to chief of operations. He starts work Saturday. Olen Martin, who had been chief of operations under Bratton, turned in his resignation and has moved to a law enforcement job in Lorain County.
As for the rest of his crew, Levorchick said the department is on firm ground coverage wise. The road patrol will continue to have three deputies patrolling during each shift, he said. “We are where we need to be right now,” he said.
He makes that assessment as he readies for his first round of budget hearings with the Ottawa County commissioners.
“We’ve submitted our budget and are waiting for our hearing to be set,” Levorchick said.
He said he asks for nothing lavish but hopes he won’t have to make concessions that’ll hurt operations as commissioners take a hard look at all department budgets.
Over the next year, Levorchick also plans to pursue resource sharing with other nearby departments to help costs in line. “I’m big into resource sharing,” the sheriff said. “We’re looking at training and every other aspect.”
Updates are in the works for the sheriff’s office website. The home page has been changed and others are working to make the page more user friendly. It’s not as fast as some people would like – the foreclosure information hasn’t been updated, for instance – but it’s coming along, Levorchick said.
“I’ve only been in office for a month,” he said. “The changes are coming but not all at once.”