The McCracken Fiscal Court heard Tuesday night from the sheriff's, county clerk and finance departments and discussed the need for additional raises for personnel at the sheriff's department.
Sheriff Jon Hayden spoke about the ongoing need for raises and a higher starting salary for his deputies.
"The pay bumps are appreciated but it's like trying to put out the Empire State Building that is on fire with a water hose," he said.
He compared the difference in starting pay for officers who haven't yet attended the academy of $41,000 in the city and $30,000 in the county. He also presented an updated ordinance from one set in 2006 and asked commissioners to fill in the salary amounts.
The need for increased pay for low level sheriff's deputies was one of the seven major challenges for the county that Judge-Executive Van Newberry outlined during a pre-budget workshop.
Newberry presented a tiered solution for the sheriff's department. He drafted a similar proposed structure for employees at the jail due to the high turnover raise and low average salary for deputy jailers.
For the 28 deputies, the current average salary is $44,000, with a starting pay between $30,000 to $37,000 depending on academy training. The new structure would include bottom-up raises between 1.5 percent and 4 percent for officers. The estimate cost for the increases would be $50,000 next year, he said.
Hayden said he has enough deputies as long as there aren't any long term injuries or sicknesses. The Fiscal Court added an additional deputy for the department in its 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.
The sheriff's department has used $130,000 in overtime pay since last July 1, an average of $3,400 per officer, according to Newberry.
Most of the rest of the sheriff's department's proposed budget stayed relatively flat with a small increase in vehicle fuel.
The county clerk's budget decreased due to two clerk positions that have not been filled. The department hopes to promote one part-time employee to full time and fill the other position at a salary of $21,000 each to get back to 22 full-time deputy clerks.
Commissioners also discussed potential cuts to the department's office supply budget, which was $80,000 last year, and recording and court costs budget, which was $45,000.
The election board budget doubled due to two scheduled elections, including the 2014 general election and the 2015 primary, to be held during the upcoming fiscal year.
County Treasurer Angie Brown presented a flat budget with no major proposed increases for her department.
The next workshop, in which the court will discuss the road, building and electrical, emergency services, code enforcement, and the animal control and shelter budgets, will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at the emergency operations center on Coleman Road.
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