Victoria sheriff's office wants more money for salaries

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 9, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.
Updated Aug. 10, 2012 at 3:10 a.m.

A request for an additional $1.1 million may solve staffing and salary issues at the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, but commissioners must first decide whether to shift the tax dollars.

The bulk of Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor's budget increase presented Thursday to county commissioners was an $882,320 request for personnel and a new salary structure.

O'Connor said compensation discrepancies, including variances between ranks, have been an issue.

"We compete with Victoria Police Department for employees," he said.

The proposed salary structure would cost about $512,000, without taking into account a 3-percent cost-of-living raise commissioners built into their budget.

On its own, the raise would cost about $240,000 for the sheriff's office, said Chief Deputy Terry Simons, who said he was pleased with the proposal.

"We want them to see the ladder they'll climb to be the sheriff one day," Simons said.

O'Connor said with the proposed change, the salaries are not at the top at the market - nor at the bottom.

The department has a compression issue, he said, where first-year deputies earn as much as their superiors.

The new plan is based on performance, not seniority, O'Connor said.

"It's about career development," he said.

The sheriff's budget proposal also includes seven new employees, at a cost of $372,140. The remainder of the salary request was not discussed.

County Judge Don Pozzi said he anticipated the sheriff's budget request.

He said his "best recollection is all years but one, the sheriff requested additional deputies."

Although he said the request was not unreasonable, he said he would not, nor could not, guarantee anything.

"I'm not going to second-guess the sheriff or any elected official on how they structure their employees," Pozzi said.

The county and sheriff's office surveyed several Texas counties regarding salary structures.

The request was comparable with their findings, Pozzi said.

He said he was not concerned with future funding issues if the court approves the personnel request.

"We already computed in a 3-percent cost-of-living raise, so it would be a little over $200,000," he said.

However, Pozzi said he is expecting other salary and personnel requests from at least 10 departments.

"I will consider them on an individual basis, the need and the big picture, if we can fund it," Pozzi said.

He said there will always be personnel requests in law enforcement.

"Law enforcement grows as your community grows," he said.



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