BOC grants pay increases for Sheriff’s office
“Do not allow another $700,000 to walk out the door ... Newton County’s been good to me, but most of all I’ve been good to Newton County.”
— Sheriff Ezell Brown, on the dangers of delaying pay increases
The Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 Tuesday to approve $135,000 in raises for Sheriff ’s Office and another $48,000 in pay increases for the Fire Department over the next three months until a budget can be drawn up for next year.
The decision included pay increases for all NCSO staff, a $1/hour increase for all deputies and detention officers, and incentive increases for tenure and rank. The Fire Department will increase pay for all staff except chief and deputy chief, depending on years of service, certification, and education.
Sheriff Ezell Brown made his case for the need for immediate action, saying that in the last six months since the board delayed action on the issue, 12 employees had quit, costing the county some $700,000 including benefits. He also pointed out that while his department has overspent its budget over the past several years, it had also seen a dramatic cut in funds and was gradually bringing down its spending.
“Do not allow another $700,000 to walk out the door,” he warned the commissioners. “Newton County’s been good to me, but most of all I’ve been good to Newton County.”
The Sheriff ’s speech was met with a standing ovation from citizens, and support from most of the commissioners. County Manager Tom Garrett explained that the money would be shifted from other areas for which the county has over budgeted.
Specifically, $50,000 will come from line item savings, $75,000 from deep freeze savings and a contingency line item transfer of $10,000 for the NCSO raises, while the additional funds to the Fire Department will come from a cost recovery plan ($30,000) and deep freeze savings ($18,000).
Commissioners Nancy Schulz, J.C. Henderson, and Lanier Sims voted in favor of the raise.
Commissioner John Douglas, the single dissenting vote, said that it would not be fair to give the Sheriff ’s Office a
raise without considering other county employees and taxpayers.
“Everybody else deserves a pay raise; what do we tell them?” he said, adding that the Sheriff’s office already receives 44 percent of the county budget.
The pay increases will add another $732,000 to next year’s budget.
Speaking after the vote, Sheriff Brown told The News he was pleased with the vote and hoped that the board would do even more for his budget next year.
“If we want a progressive community and a progressive department, we need the resources,” he said. “We would like to feel as if we are competitive with other departments in the metro area.”
Brown said the current starting salary for a Newton County deputy is $14.91 an hour, which is lower than surrounding counties. This has led to many deputies jumping ship in favor of higher salaries elsewhere.