Beaver County Sheriff Tony Guy has been scheduling his part-time deputies to work the equivalent of full-time hours, an investigation by the Beaver Countian has revealed. County officials say they were unaware of the extent to which Sheriff Guy has been violating county policies controlling the number of hours part-time employees can work each week, and say the practice could have serious financial ramifications for taxpayers.
Under county policies, part-time employees are not allowed to work more than 28 hours each week, a total of 56 hours per two-week pay period. Beaver County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi told the Beaver Countian that the policy is important because of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“In order to manage the county’s healthcare costs, it is imperative that departments work their part-time employees 28 hours or less per week,” said Cantelmi. “Otherwise, under the Affordable Care Act, they are considered full-time employees and the county is then required to provide them with healthcare.”
The county internally bills departments a total of $14,400 per year for each employee receiving healthcare. Beaver County is self-insured, meaning the actual healthcare cost per employee can be up to $150,000 each year before third-party catastrophic healthcare insurance policies kick in.
“I have said repeatedly that deputies need to be either part-time or full-time,” said Solicitor Cantelmi. “When Tony Guy took office I stressed to him the importance of making sure his part-time deputies do not work more than 28 hours per week, and explained to him the ramifications the county could face if he violated that policy.”
The Beaver Countian began its investigation into part-time Sheriff’s Deputies after several law enforcement sources expressed concerns about the prominent role some deputies were being given in the office by Sheriff Tony Guy. This publication requested time-sheet information from the county, which is public record, revealing the dramatic number of hours Sheriff Tony Guy has been working some of his part-time deputies.
During the past county pay period, county records show part-time Deputies Mitchell Himes and Keith Smith both worked a total of 63 hours, Jennifer Bredemeier worked 64 hours, Steven Montani worked 67 hours, Deputies John Cumberledge and Douglas Hanna worked 70 hours, Deputy Kathleen Kelly worked 72 hours, David Mangerie worked 75 hours, Justin Rapko worked 80 hours, and Levoid “Bo” Sallis worked 85 hours.
Other pay-periods since Sheriff Guy took office have been just as egregious, with part-time Deputy Justin Rapko racking up as many as 90 hours in a single two-week pay cycle resulting in overtime payments.
There are already several part-time deputies receiving county healthcare after being overworked by former Sheriff George David, although officials say those benefits could be dropped if the deputies were made to work under the 28 hour per week threshold for a year.
Under a collective bargaining agreement with the Sheriff’s Deputy Association, a full-time employee is defined as “a person who is on a regular basis schedule for thirty-three hours or more in a work week.” Working part-time deputies over the 28 hours per week creates additional concerns that the union may eventually be able to file an unfair labor practices claim, which could theoretically result in the county being forced to reclassify those deputies as full-time employees who could then be entitled to not only healthcare, but additional benefits including extended vacations, sick time, and pensions.
Beaver County Human Resources Director Rick Darbut expressed frustration that the number of hours being worked by part-time deputies has again become an issue. “We shouldn’t even be in a situation where we have to worry about this,” said Darbut. “The rule is no more than 28 hours per week for a part-time deputy, and those guys all know that. This is not hard to understand.”
Sheriff Tony Guy has repeatedly asserted he feels the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office is currently understaffed, although County Commissioners have countered that he has been commanding his deputies to perform duties which are outside the legal purview of the Sheriff’s Office, including doing narcotics work in Aliquippa and calling out deputies to respond to various police incidents.
County Solicitor Andrea Cantelmi told the Beaver Countian she intends to draft a letter to Sheriff Tony Guy advising him to immediately cease & desist working his part-time deputies more than 28 hours per week.
Under Pennsylvania law, public officials who act beyond their authority can be subject to a surcharge action, making them personally liable for any financial losses suffered by taxpayers as a result of mismanagement.