Verl Warnimont - Putnam Sentinel
Former Chief Deputy Verl Warnimont

PUTNAM COUNTY — In an apparent spat over compensation, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Verl Warnimont resigned his position on Monday.

Mr. Warnimont was appointed to the position in January of 2017 following the election of Brian Siefker as county sheriff. At that time, Mr. Warnimont asserts he entered into a verbal agreement with the newly elected sheriff, an agreement providing for a wage and benefit package above and beyond what was typically called for.

“In the beginning, I was supposed to make a certain amount of money per hour to justify taking on the position,” Mr. Warnimont said. “And with that I was supposed to get two weeks paid vacation on top of anything I accrued every year. This was just the basic deal for me to be able to accept the position, to justify doing it.”

In addition, Mr. Warnimont asserted he was to receive $25 per hour at the start.

Not so, Sheriff Siefker said. The position paid $23 per hour, and that’s what Mr. Warnimont was paid. As for the additional vacation time?

“I didn’t promise that,” the sheriff said. “You get the vacation that you accumulate. This isn’t like the private sector. I can’t just hand out vacation.”

What brought the whole matter to a head was a medical emergency experienced by Mr. Warnimont requiring two separate surgeries and two periods of convalescence: the first for eight weeks, and the second for six. During that second recuperation period, he says he received a call from the PCSO informing him all accrued vacation, sick, and comp time due him was spent, and requiring him to pay the Auditor’s Office his medical insurance premium.

“I’ve donated $70,000 of big equipment; a couple vehicles, donations here and there, and, you know, just labor,” Mr. Warnimont said. “And I find myself going up to write a check to cover my health insurance. I’ve never asked for anything in return until it came to this point, and I was just, like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. It was just the icing on the cake. I expected more out of the county. To help a guy out when he needed it.”

For Sheriff Siefker, Warnimont’s donations weren’t, and couldn’t be, a factor.

“He probably did (donate that much),” the sheriff said. “It saved the county a lot of money. And, you know what, nobody said he had to. Nobody asked him to. That can’t come into play.”

Even so, while the department couldn’t officially intervene, couldn’t provide unearned time, an effort on the part of at least one PCSO employee to alleviate the burden was made.

“Somebody here donated two weeks of their vacation to him and he refused to take it,” Sheriff Siefker said. “We tried to help him out. Somebody was kind enough to do it. And he refused it.”

“The sheriff don’t get it,” Mr. Warnimont said in response. “Everybody else out there gets it. It’s just a matter of principal. All glory to the sheriff. I’m just the man behind the scenes. I’m just the one who made things work. My job was to be there to make the sheriff look good. That’s what it’s been about the whole time.”

For both parties, the PCSO and Mr. Warnimont, the parting, all rancor aside, brings with it it’s own share of pain, of regret. Sheriff Siefker praised Mr. Warnimont for his efforts over the past 28 months, acknowledging his former chief’s contributions to the efficiency of his administration, and asserting his experience would prove difficult, at best, to replace.

As for Mr. Warnimont?

“Am I gonna miss it? Oh, hell yes,” he said. I loved what I did, helping the county and the community. But I decided I’ll just move on.”