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County considers staffing requests

April 19, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Washington County department heads made more than $2.2 million in staffing requests Tuesday to the County Commissioners.

The requests included 30 new positions, salary increases and title changes to 155 existing jobs, and sizable pay hikes for all uniformed personnel in the Sheriff's Department, with the exception of the sheriff.

The sheriff's salary is set by the state.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said after the meeting that the Budget and Finance Department tentatively included all of the requests in the county's proposed $178.1 million budget for fiscal year 2007.

The commissioners are in the process of reviewing the draft budget and still must take a final vote.

Under the Sheriff's Department's proposal, 56 deputies and Detention Center correctional officers would receive pay raises ranging from about $10,000 to nearly $20,000. The remaining uniformed personnel would receive raises ranging from about $2,600 to more than $9,000.

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In total, 170 Sheriff's Department deputies and correctional officers would receive pay hikes at a cost of $931,787 in fiscal year 2007, according to a county report. The pay raises were among several personnel requests from the department.

Sheriff Charles F. Mades told the commissioners in February that the department had a crisis in recruiting employees because of low wages.

Forty-two deputies and correctional officers left the Sheriff's Department in the last four years, he said.

The commissioners agreed by consensus with many of the new positions and job reclassifications, but they put off making decisions on several others until further discussion. They also denied some requests.

The commissioners did not take any action on the Sheriff's Department's salary proposal.

If approved, the Sheriff's Department's pay raises would take effect Oct. 1. Most of the other salary requests would be effective at the beginning of fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1.

In addition to the pay raises, Mades and Col. Douglas Mullendore asked the commissioners to place the Sheriff's Department on a pay scale that is separate from other county employees and that includes annual 3.5 percent step increases. They also asked that the starting salary for new deputies and Detention Center correctional officers be increased.

Under the proposal, the starting salary for patrol and judicial deputies would increase from $29,991 to $36,304 a year, while starting pay for Detention Center officers would increase from $27,770 to $31,674 a year.

"If approved, these increases would go a long way toward restoring a competitive posture for recruitment of qualified personnel," according to a county report.

Mades and Mullendore asked that any cost-of-living raises be added to the new salary ranges to remain competitive with Frederick County, Md.

"Failure to do so would mean that the gap between our salary levels and theirs would widen very quickly," according to the report.

According to the report, Frederick County starts its deputies at $39,546 a year.

Mades has said most of the employees who left the department in the last four years stayed in the public safety field but took jobs in other jurisdictions that paid more. The turnover cost the county $1.74 million in training and other related costs.

Mades and Mullendore also requested 12 new positions - four judicial deputies, four patrol deputies, three correctional officers and an office associate.

Requests from other departments included a planning director position at $51,400 a year and a deputy director of fire and emergency services at a salary of $54,731.

The commissioners delayed decisions on those requests, saying they wanted more information.

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