FRAKNLINTON, La. -- When lay-off letters were handed out to about a dozen Washington Parish Sheriff's Office employees two weeks ago, it was difficult to swallow.
Sheriff Randy Seal explained in a press conference, then, that inheriting a mess of finances, and operating without guaranteed money from parish government, left him no choice but to slash almost $1 million, which included the layoffs, program cuts and a 30 percent pay cut for even himself.
But for some former deputies, one line of the letter raised the most concern.
It reads, “Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, no severance compensation is offered.”
"Sick time I understand,” said one deputy who asked not to be identified, “Vacation time, according to the law, has to be paid to us. It’s time that's approved and time that's due to us. The other part of it was compensation time."
State law says an employer has to pay "the amount due under the terms of employment" by the next paycheck, or 15 days, whichever comes first.
That hasn't happened. Sheriff Randy Seal said the situation isn't a matter of not wanting to pay.
"I just can't pay them right now because I don't have the money to pay them," he said. "I'm close to the fiscal year, but once we get into next year's fiscal year, then we'll be able to pay them what they are owed."
The sheriff does admit spending money since the layoffs, including sending deputies to training last week to learn how to better handle woods searches, like the recent one for an escaped Rayburn inmate. However, he said the class had long been paid for and the only other expense was gas.
Other training has since been canceled and a conference planned is being paid for out of his own pocket.
The sheriff said a letter went out Thursday to all laid off employees, assuring them that they will get paid for the time they've earned. He's hoping to get that done in the next couple of months.
The former deputy says if not, he'll ask a court for help.
"I'm not looking to make any enemies, by any means,” he said, “What's due to me is due to me, what's due to my fellow former coworkers is due to them."
Eyewitness News did talk to some former deputies who weren’t concerned and willing to wait out their payments. The sheriff added he’s hoping to rehire the employees let go, also within the next few months.