Deputy Will Lose Job To Make Way For Return Of Sheridan

Steve Robb - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Updated Tue, May 6, 2014 10:07 am

An Athens County sheriff's deputy will be losing his job to make room in the budget for the return of Deputy Shannon Sheridan.

Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith said Monday he does not feel it appropriate to discuss the matter publicly until the action is actually taken. He did say it will be a probationary employee who is let go.

"We're working on it this week," Smith said.

Sheridan was fired by Sheriff Patrick Kelly in 2012, but the State Personnel Board of Review ordered that Sheridan be reinstated with limited back pay. Sheridan returned to work Monday, but there wasn't a budgeted position for him.

"We told him (Smith) that we're not going to fund an extra position, so he really doesn't have much choice (but to let someone go)," County Commission President Lenny Eliason said.

According to the deputies' labor contract, all casual, temporary, new hire probationary and part-time employees within the affected classification must, in that order, be terminated first.

The department currently has three full-time deputies still in their one-year probationary period, although the anniversary of hire for one of them is this Wednesday. The probationary periods for the other two are set to end next month.

Smith said that because it will be a probationary employee let go, seniority does not apply.

The sheriff's budget will also be impacted by Sheridan's back pay and because the county is currently paying two sheriffs.

Smith was chosen as interim sheriff by the Athens County Democratic Central Committee to serve while Sheriff Patrick Kelly is suspended from office. Kelly was placed under suspension while his criminal case is pending in Athens County Common Pleas Court, but is still being paid.

Having Smith on board is costing the county an additional $8,000 a month in salary and fringe benefits, according to figures from the Athens County Auditor's Office.

Smith said the amount of back pay for Sheridan is still being computed.

Eliason said the commissioners will be providing additional money to the sheriff's budget to cover Smith's pay and Sheridan's back pay, although Eliason said action won't be taken until later in the year when there is a better picture of the financial situation.

Smith has been serving as sheriff since March 27, and Kelly's trial is Sept. 29, meaning the county will have had two sheriffs for six months by the time of the trial — unless Kelly resigns before then, or his criminal cases is resolved before the trial date. Six months of Smith's salary and fringe benefits would amount to about $48,000.