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Sheriff wants new pay scale for public safety employees

September 18, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades asked the county Tuesday morning to create a pay scale solely for public safety employees, one that might raise the salaries of Sheriff's Department employees and help close the pay gap between law enforcement and correctional deputies.

Mades spoke to the Washington County Commissioners as a result of ongoing concerns from Washington County Detention Center employees about a disparity in pay between patrol/judicial deputies and correctional officers, low morale and a lack of administrative support, he said.

The sheriff is in charge of the patrol, judicial and detention divisions.

The average salary for patrol deputies is $34,611, while judicial deputies make $36,920 and correctional deputies make $31,886, according to the Sheriff's Department. The department employs about 200 people and has a budget of about $13 million.

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Mades said that whether the proposed public safety scale would raise salaries will depend on support from the commissioners and the recommendations of a county committee set up to study the salaries of all county employees.

"I am their boss, but I feel that for purposes of salary and benefits, they are your employees," Mades told the commissioners.

The study should be completed in a few weeks, county officials said.

Mades said a separate pay scale for public safety employees would improve self-esteem and let employees know they are valued.

"It shows that we do a different job than the majority of county employees," Mades said.

Currently, law enforcement deputies and correctional officers are on the same scale as all county employees.

The commissioners said they would take Mades' request into consideration.

Sheriff's Department employees were on the same pay level until April 2000, when Mades requested that law enforcement deputies be given raises. The county approved an 8 percent raise for those deputies, but the correctional officers did not receive the same raise.

The correctional deputies have said the Sheriff's Department stopped operating as a team because the sheriff didn't request a raise for them.

Mades said Tuesday he's considering creating a Conflict Resolution Committee and providing training in team-concept and team-building skills for the correctional deputies.

Mades said the starting salary of Washington County correctional deputies is among the lowest in the state at $25,713.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners take the Sheriff's Department's concerns seriously but that the county isn't as "rich" as others in the state.

Commissioners Vice President Paul L. Swartz and Commissioner Bert Iseminger said they think Sheriff's Department employees are underpaid.

"I don't think there's any question in our minds that the public safety issue is an area we need to address as far as salary," Swartz said.

Iseminger said it will be up to the next board of commissioners to raise salaries.

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