County Commission Gives Nod To Sheriff’s Request

The Jefferson County Commission approved a request from Jefferson County Sheriff Coffey to increase pay for jailers/workhouse. Sheriff Coffey spoke before the County Commission last week regarding the necessity of an immediate wage increase to prevent the exodus of jail/workhouse employees to other better paying counties. He stated that an already seriously understaffed jail/workhouse was in danger of not having enough employees to satisfy the state if they lose any of the current staff. According to Sheriff Coffey, should the state determine that it was necessary to relocate prisoners to other locations outside the county the cost would likely exceed the 2 million dollar mark.

With several positions budgeted but no applications on file, Sheriff Coffey plans to redirect a portion of the funding for open positions to pay for the increase to be more competitive with surrounding counties so that he can retain the employees that are currently working at the jail/workhouse. Most, but not all of the funding will come from the movement of funds. He will still keep funding for open positions in the hopes of increasing his staff. The remainder of the funding, just north of $16,000, is slotted to come for County Fund Balance. Current jailer pay is $28,716 and will go to $36,400 following the raise.

The Sheriff acknowledged that others in his and other county departments need and deserve a raise but he stressed that the situation at the jail is critical now and that he did not feel that it could wait to be handled until later in the fiscal year.

Monday evening the Jefferson County Commission and Jefferson County Budget Committee held special called meetings to address the request. In Budget Committee, Commissioner Dockery presented a motion that funded the Sheriff’s request. His motion was amended by Commissioner Carmichael to attach another motion that Dockery had prepared that called for the Jefferson County Finance Director to go out for quotes on a firm to provide a total compensation package market survey for Jefferson and surrounding counties. This survey would provide information that will be used to determine a raise/bonus structure for all county employees. Should a raise be given it would be retroactive to July 1, 2022. Both the motion and amendment were successful with only Commissioners Moore and Scarlett voting in dissent. The recommendation was then moved to the full body and found favor, again with Moore and Scarlett against the motion.

Source: K. Depew, News Director