PROVO — Utah County officials are considering reducing overtime hours and keeping staffing levels at a minimum in order to cut costs.

Director of personnel Lana Jensen presented the plan to the Utah County Commission on Tuesday.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office has the most overtime hours, Jensen said, and this year accounts for more than 90 percent of the county's 65,000 overtime hours. The sheriff's department had 91,000 hours of overtime in 2008 and 95,000 hours in 2007.

This year, all other county departments have about 5,000 overtime hours combined, Jensen said.

Sheriff Jim Tracy said most of his department's overtime hours are paid back by entities the sheriff's office is assisting during those hours, such as neighboring cities or the U.S. Forest Service.

Tracy said county officials would like to cut back on overtime hours at the county jail.

Because the jail has to be manned by a certain amount of people every hour of every day, overtime hours are incurred when people do not show up to work, he said.

Tracy said his department is down seven full-time jail workers due to budget cuts over the past two years, putting his department already at the minimum staffing level.

"To do less moves us to unsafe areas," he said.

Tracy said his department will never be able to get rid of overtime hours completely because crises will continue to occur during hours that require overtime.

Jensen said she will be working individually with all departments to reduce overtime.

— Sara Lenz