The Mercer County Fiscal Court was asked again to help make sure the Mercer County Judicial Center is fully staffed.
Bailiffs—also known as court security officers—are part-time employees who are limited to working 99 hours a month. The Administrative Office of the Courts pays their salary up to $9 an hour. Most of the bailiffs are retired from other jobs and receive no county benefits.
The office has lost 15 bailiffs over the last six years. For each replacement, the county has to spend up to $1,500 in equipment and training. However, many of the new hires leave after three months, requiring the county to turn around and pay to train their replacements.
At last week’s meeting Bailiff Jim Holiday distributed a report from the state auditor’s office.
“I really think you need to vote on this proposal,” Holiday said. “You either need to be proactive or reactive.”
“We are getting short-handed,” said Mercer Sheriff Ernie Kelty. He said COVID-19 has taken a toll and it is harder to get people to work part-time for $9 an hour with no benefits. “You won’t find many people who can live off that,” Kelty said, especially for a 22 hour a week job.
Three bailiffs must be available for each courtroom and there must be two to run the metal detector at the front door. In addition, bailiffs also help with jail transports, serve warrants and place offenders in custody.
“They’re not just sitting at the door watching people pass through the metal detector,” Kelty said. “We’re asking these people to do this for $9 an hour.
The fiscal court took no action.