Grade increases approved to make HCSO pay more competitive

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Halifax County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved rank increases for sheriff’s office deputies to the rank of lieutenant II.

The plan was presented by Commissioner Rives Manning as a substitute for one proposed by the county’s human resources department. The plan comes into effect on March 27.

Under the approved plan, the starting salary for a Deputy Sheriff I would be $40,091 compared to $32,057.

“Where we are now, our starting salary is $32,000,” Manning said this morning. “The counties around us cost $38,000 and up. This puts us in the ballpark. We will be very competitive.

The restructuring puts the post of Deputy I at an increase of five grades; an increase of four ranks for a Corporal or Deputy II; an increase of three ranks for a sergeant; and four rank increases for Lieutenants 1 and 2.

The restructuring also affects the staff of the detention center with three rank increases for a prison captain, a detention officer I, a detention officer II and a detention lieutenant. There is an increase of 2 grades for the head of detention.

The total cost of the plan for the sheriff’s office with benefits and 401(k) is $275,670.55 while the cost of the jail plan is $84,357.58 for a total of $360,028.13 $.

Human Resources had proposed a two-grade increase for the sheriff’s office as well as a two-grade increase for the jail.

For employees in both categories who already exceeded the proposed new minimum, human resources director Renee Perry said she had used the new personnel policy and added an extra step for those staff members.

The total cost for the sheriff’s office under the HR proposal was $117,827.78 and $43,956.95 for the jail. The total was $161,784.70.

But the so-called “Manning Plan” recommendation prevailed and was approved unanimously.

“Right now, when you compare all the counties around us with their sheriff’s department budget and salary increases, Halifax County is the lowest of all the adjacent sheriff’s departments,” Manning said in presenting the plan. “We are losing a lot of staff to other counties and municipalities. We have lost nearly 20 sworn assistant employees from the sheriff’s department and also detention staff.

Manning said percentage increases in the past have been attempted. “They don’t work. They really benefit higher salaries, but when you start with $32,000 and increase it by 10%, that’s an increase of $3,200. When you move to a $90,000 salary and increase it by 10%, that’s a $9,000 increase. This is a big difference between the superior dog and the inferior man.

Manning said if the staff recommendation were adopted, the county would still be lower than surrounding counties. “We would be down and that really wouldn’t help us one bit. If we pass the Manning plan, our sheriff’s department salaries will be within the range of neighboring counties and we will be competitive. I think we have and will have the best capabilities of the sheriff’s department there and we should be able to hire deputies.

He said MPs face all sorts of dangers that the general public does not face. “We need sworn deputies and trained detention staff.”

Commissioner Patrick Qualls, who tabled the second to Manning’s motion to go along with the plan he presented, said: ‘It’s been a long time coming. It’s time we recognized that when someone puts on a bulletproof vest to go to work, they deserve a little more pay. Our fellow citizens deserve to be protected.

Board chairman Vernon Bryant said Manning and Qualls worked to see the plan through.

“It’s been a problem for my entire term,” Commissioner Linda Brewer said. “I am keenly aware that not all county employees who serve us are paid at the level of the surrounding areas and my prayer for the future is that we can fix this.”

But, said Brewer, “We can’t have three deputies covering the fourth largest county in the state of North Carolina. We must take steps to remedy this situation.

Commissioner Carolyn Johnson said: ‘I totally agree that MPs need to be paid more money and looking at that $40,000 scale is really not a cost of living. It’s not a lot of money for someone to risk their life, but what I’m saying is we have extra departments in this county losing employees because employees aren’t getting paid like the other counties. Hopefully once this is over we will look at a salary study for all of our departments so that we can do for them what we plan to do for the sheriff’s department.

Commissioner John Smith said: “I think it’s a good thing we’re doing. I think Commissioner Manning and Commissioner Qualls should be commended for the work they have done to achieve this.

Smith While Scotland Neck is protected by a police service there are a limited number of officers on duty. “We could ask the Sheriff’s Department for help as we have situations that have happened here in Scotland Neck that need some attention. We realize there are other departments in the county that need a raise but I think that’s a good place to start because I think we all know we need the protection law enforcement and our sheriff’s department is where we primarily go for this. ”

Says Bryant: “It’s a big step in the right direction. I certainly hope that the councils after us and the councils to come (in the future) will continue to do the same, not just for the sheriff’s department, but we need to do this for all of our employees. We have to improve things and this is the way to do it.

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