Ala. county approves detention deputy raises in hopes of slowing turnover

The change in salary will raise starting detention deputy pay from $12.60 an hour to $14.98 an hour


By Donna Thornton
The Gadsden Times
        
GADSDEN, Ala. — It's unusual for the Etowah County Commission to approve salary increases outside the regular planning period for the coming year's budget. However, that's what they did Tuesday, to try to get more people to apply and to stay when hired to work in the Etowah County Detention Center.

The change in salary will raise starting detention deputy pay from $12.60 an hour to $14.98 an hour, Etowah County Chief Administrative Officer Shane Ellison said, and will hopefully make the county a competitive employer.

All detention deputies, deputy security specialists, the court liaison, sergeants, lieutenants, captains and the assistant chief of corrections will receive a raise of not less than $2.38 an hour, at the request of the ECSO Personnel Board.

Employees now making more than starting pay will be placed on the current pay scale at the hourly rate nearest to, but not less than, the $2.38 increase.

Turnover in the detention staff has been a long-term problem for the sheriff's office. Currently there are at least 38 open job slots in the jail.

Sheriff Jonathon Horton has talked to the commission before about the vast amount of overtime required to safely staff the jail with so few employees.

"It's a lot of lost money in overtime and training," Horton said, when employees are trained and leave after short tenure, and their shifts have to be covered by people who  have already worked their regular hours.

The resolution authorizing the increase spells out the reasons for giving it: "... the Commission recognizes there is a shortage in the number of Detention Deputies at the Etowah County Detention Center and ... there is currently limited interest in the position based on the lack of applications ..."

"This is not arbitrary," Ellison said. "We've done our research."

He said in comparing wages with surrounding county lock-ups and local jobs, it's believed that the wages to be offered now will bring in more applicants.

Commission members, Ellison and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Dollar wanted to be sure other county employees know they are valued, too.

"When you're bleeding, you work on that appendage," Ellison said.

He said he hopes the September budgeting process will enable the commission to do something for all employees.
     
(c)2021 The Gadsden Times, Ala.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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