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$737K of American Rescue Plan funds to cover Kent County overtime costs

Kent County Sheriff Cruiser.jpg
Posted at 9:27 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 23:10:31-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The Kent County Commission is moving $737,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover overtime costs.

The money is going to cover overtime expenses for the sheriff's office. The undersheriff says it's the most OT he's ever seen.

ARPA funds are for cost issues brought on by the pandemic, and they say they're putting it to good use.

"No one wants to waste or frivolously spend money that should not be spent," Kent County Undersheriff Chuck Dewitt told FOX 17. "The ARPA funds was critical. It was obviously a much easier ask. We still want to be very diligent. We still want to be mindful in regards to how those monies are used."

From January 1 to March 23 this year, the sheriff's office had 8,600 hours of OT.

Dewitt says this was because many were out with COVID-19 or were close to someone who tested positive.

"Hopefully, you know, we're over the hump and we will not experience another month or two that we experienced early on," Dewitt said.

He added the office did look at ways to cover the spike in pay. He says they thought about cutting back scheduled overtime events like training.

"One of those, for example, training, de-escalation training that we plan on continuing to enhance with our staff. So, it was a decision that we either had to cut events such as that or go back to the board to ask for the funding to cover those COVID costs," he said.

Under the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Department of Treasury allocated Kent County $127 million.

The treasury sent one half of that in 2021. Commissioners plan to distribute the remainder in 2022.

Fortunately for the county, ARPA funds are meant to cover losses in revenue like what the sheriff's office experienced.

"I think we can all agree public safety, the need to be able to ensure that those that we have swore to protect, those that we are sworn to the taken an oath to protect are in fact protected, and in our obligation to our staff to ensure that they're properly trained and ready to ... to help out in any way that's necessary does, in fact, take place," he said.

Like many law enforcement agencies across the country, the Kent County Sheriff's Office is struggling to fill positions.

Dewitt says even if they had a full staff during those months, they would still have high overtime costs.

If you would like to apply for the sheriff's office click here.

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