Jailor wage increases discussed Tuesday
The Washington County Supervisors spent nearly an hour in a work session discussing the proposed wages and step scales for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday morning.
Washington County Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. asked the Washington County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Jared Schneider if he had any new information for the supervisors. Schneider said no.
Schneider said he thought the recommended five-year wage increases from Washington County Supervisor Richard Young last week were fair. He also said the scale he gave the supervisors in June wasn’t too far off compared to other counties.
“But we didn’t do that,” Seward said. “That’s the thing, and now we’re stuck with the 4, 6, 8, 10 percent raises all at once, and that’s what is unacceptable.”
Regardless, there would be a bigger raise for people working from the bottom to the top of the scale, Schneider said.
Seward said the problem was the staff getting 6 to 10 percent wage increases.
“In your mind I guess it is; but I mean, when you look at our scale and the comparable, our scale is not extravagant by any means,” Schneider said. “If you keep the wages competitive I guess that’s the results of it. We’re not doing anything with our scale that looks like a lot of other counties, you know, aren’t doing. We have to stay competitive.”
Washington County Supervisor Richard Young said there would be raises and it would be more than 2 percent. He said the supervisors needed to agree on what the starting and ending wage would be. He also presented two examples of this during the work session. Young used $19.77 as an ending wage and $14.34 as the beginning wage.
“If you do that for five years it’s like $1.09 a year if we agree, if we go up to that $19.77 ending wage,” Young said. “If we do it over a seven-year-step it’s 78 cents a year. Then the last year it’s 77 cents. But I think what we’ve got to agree with is where we’re going to start, where we’re going to end and then we can set that step to whatever. I just did it this way so we could get this discussion started and figure out a way to make it work.”
Louisa County uses the step scale in the sheriff’s department, Schneider said. In the first year, almost a 6.25 percent raise is given and this doesn’t include the cost of living. A 10 percent raise is given between one year and two years, Schneider said.
“With the step scale, you know, it’s not like what we’re asking for isn’t what everybody else [is doing],” Schneider said. “Everybody else is doing the same thing. You have the step scale; you’re going to see those raises until they hit the top. Once they’re topped out then they’re just going to get that cost –of-living agreement.”
Seward said he would like to know what the percentage of pay raises would be from the example Young gave.
“Are you wanting to know whether or not we have the money in the budget to do that?” Schneider asked.
“No, I’m wanting to know this,” Seward said. “I already know what the percentage raises are that you have proposed. I want to now compare that with Richard’s.”
This was only an example, Young said. The starting and ending wages for the proposed step increase didn’t have to be for that amount. He said everyone from the Board of Supervisors needed to agree on what the starting and ending were and then maybe decide on the 2 percent raise.
“I’m willing to commit to that,” Seward said.
Seward asked Schneider, out of the list of 54 former employees at the sheriff’s department, how many of them went to work at another jail?
There are several factors the sheriff’s department deals with on a regular basis that causes the longevity not to be there, Schneider said. The wages are one; what employees deal with during their shift; and working nights and weekends were the factors he gave the supervisors.
“I think those three factors right there are a good majority of the reason why people leave,” Schneider said.
Seward asked Schneider if he could give what the percentage of raises would be, using the examples for the beginning and ending wages Young gave to him, within the next couple of days. Then Seward would compare it to what Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar proposed to see if there was an improvement, he said.
Both Young and Schneider said either way the increase would be more.
Seward asked if there was any way to roll the proposed plans back so they could be gradually introduced in the next three years. Young said yes, but setting the starting and ending wage would have to come first.
Schneider agreed with Young. He said the biggest thing that needed to be figured out was figuring out what the goal of the scale was and where the supervisors would like to see the scale. Then wage increases could be averaged out over the next couple of years.
Washington County Supervisor Steve Davis said he would like the sheriff’s department to be able to retain its employees but the inconsistencies in the past are what the issue was now and it would happen again in the future. He asked the other supervisors if they would like Schneider to come back next week with those figures.
Both Young and Seward said yes. Davis said OK and asked for a work session to be put on the agenda for next week.
Schneider asked the wording of action to be attached to that in case everyone agreed on a starting and ending wage next week.
Seward told Schneider this was fine, but he still wanted another option from the sheriff’s department. He said his main problem was the sheriff’s department proposed their wage increases and didn’t come up with any different ideas like Seward asked for.
This would be easier for the sheriff’s department if the supervisors gave them some directive to follow, Schneider said. He didn’t want this to be the sheriff’s department versus everyone else, he said.
Young said other county departments don’t have a starting or ending wage. He said everyone needed to set up a starting and ending wage in their departments.
“That would help to take out a lot of the tension,” Schneider said.