Saying his office can’t compete against higher-paying agencies including some in Brown County, Sheriff Vance Hill asked commissioners Monday to consider approving raises of $7,500 a year for jailers and deputies in fiscal year 2018-’19.
Hill, making a presentation during a budget workshop, said he is exempting himself and his two chief deputies from the request. The sheriff said it is difficult for his office to recruit and retain deputies when agencies including the Mills County Sheriff’s Office and the Brownwood and Bangs police departments pay more. Hill also presented numbers comparing pay in the sheriff’s office with dispatchers in the 9-1-1 center that’s run by the Brownwood Police Department.
Hill said the the pay raises, if approved, would add $480,000 to the budget. “Taking a look to get these raises, if there has to be a tax increase, it’s going to be less than 3 cents” per $100 valuation,” Hill told commissioners.
“I’m just putting the facts out there. I feel like it’s time. Something needs to be done to make the playing field fair with all the other law enforcement agencies, especially in this county.
“I don’t expect to get the total $7,500. I know that’s grasping. That’s what we need, but I want to work with you all to get where we need to be in the next couple of years. If we can’t do the across-the-board raises, I’d like to get a committee with a couple of you all, or work group, study group, and at least make a step program where I can go and hire a 10-year experienced officer at a rate more than a rookie officer.”
Hill presented current salaries for the 37 corrections officers who work in the Brown County Jail. Jailers’ starting annual pay is $26,777, while Mills County jailers’ starting pay is $31,866, Hill told commissioners. Mills County also has s step program which gives jailers who have five or more years of experience annual salaries of $37,936, Hill said.
“The average that we’re making with five years service at the sheriff’s office — my jailers — is $34,324,” Hill said. “With Mills County, after five years, you automatically get that pay. With us, you have to have an advanced certification before you get that pay, and then five years of service with my office.”
Hill said 9-1-1 dispatchers’ starting annual pay is $29,222, and dispatchers are paid $31,980 annually after a year. Jailers, after one year, are paid $27,975, Hill said. A dispatcher with two years’ service earns $35,256, while a jailer is paid $29,475 with the same experience, he said.
Jailers, like dispatchers, have “a high stress job,” Hill said. “But added to that, they get assaulted.”
Hill said Brown County deputies, irrespective of previous experience, start at $32,261 a year. A Bangs police officer starts at $39,254 to $43,150, depending on experience, Hill said.
In Brown County, a deputy with a master peace officer certification earns an additional $225 a month. “My average master peace officer is making $38,950 per year,” he said. In Mills County, a deputies start at $41,046, and deputies with five or more years’ experience are paid $45,151, Hill said.
“I just recently lost a 15-year deputy to the Mills County Sheriff’s Department, and he got a raise when he went to work for them,” Hill told commissioners. “And this is experience that I’m losing. It’s hurting not only the department, but the citizens as far as the type of service that they get from us.”
Hill presented pay figures from the Brownwood Police Department. “They recently started an incentive program where they’re hiring police cadets, uncertified peace officers, to go to the academy for over $37,000 a year, where again, my certified deputies are starting at $32,261. “When you’re certified, the City of Brownwood gives you a $7,000 sign-on bonus and starts you off at $40,656 a year.”
A Brownwood officer with 10 years’ experience and master certification earns $52,488, Hill said. “I’ve got one deputy that’s close to that,” he said. “He’s been here for 38 years. But you take the average of my deputies with master certification, their pay is $38,950 per year.”
Hill said he’s had an opening for a deputy for two months and finally received an application last week. “Everybody went to the Brownwood PD,” Hill said.
Additionally, Hill said:
• “My secretary staff is in line with the courthouse staff, so I’m going to ask that whatever you all do for the courthouse staff, that you do for my three secretaries.”
• Hill told commissioners he would like to restructure rank within the sheriff’s office enforcement side to promote the two current sergeants to lieutenants — one over patrol and one over criminal investigations — and promote the patrol corporal to sergeant. Those moves would add a total of $3,600 to the budget.
Hill also said he would like to promote detectives to the rank of sergeant, with no additional pay. “We’re a paramilitary organization, and you have to have rank and file to get things carried out,” Hill told commissioners.”
• Hill’s budget also contained $125,342 for three replacement vehicles. That amount includes equipment and striping.
• Hill asked for $5,866 to replace Tasers that have quit working and cannot be repaired.