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Board denies sheriff's pay request

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL - Area sheriffs took a pay cut when the regional jail opened July 1 because they no longer run lock-up facilities.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday denied Sheriff Daniel McEathron's request to maintain his annual salary even though his agency no longer runs a jail. McEathron has seen his base salary reduced by approximately $1,844.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on U.S. 340-522 replaced facilities in each of the three counties July 1. McEathron and Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter still use part of their local jails to hold inmates awaiting their scheduled appearances in court. Deputies must watch the inmates and escort them to and from the court.

Supervisors voted 3-2 against a motion to approve McEathron's request. Supervisors Richard Traczyk, Tony Carter and Chairman Daniel Murray Jr. voted against the motion. Supervisors Archie Fox and Linda Glavis voted to support the request.

Even though McEathron told the board he could find money in his own current budget to cover the loss in state funding, the board did not support his request. McEathron indicated he would not have requested the money had his agency given up all inmate responsibilities.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors adopted the county's fiscal 2015 budget in the spring. The county budget included the sheriff's spending plan and his salary that incorporated the $1,844 funded by the State Compensation Board.

County Administrator Doug Stanley told the board McEathron's reasons behind the request.

"The sheriff indicated he would contend that although he is no longer responsible for the safety and security of inmates 24-7, he is still responsible for the safety and security with the court holding facility," Stanley said, adding that McEathron also serves on the RSW Regional Jail Authority Board by statute.

Supervisor Carter said he made the motion in the affirmative so members who did not support the request could vote "no."

"I appreciate the sheriff and the work he does," Supervisor Carter said. "However, the duties have been curtailed somewhat. He still has to transport some [inmates]. It's not that big amount of money but I'm not going to support the motion I made."

The State Compensation Board bases the sheriffs' salaries on the population of the area served and on their agencies' responsibilities. Compensation Board Executive Secretary Robyn de Socio said that sheriffs Carter and McEathron receive additional compensation by the state agency because they participate in the Accreditation Career Development Program.

McEathron's base salary as set by the compensation board was reduced from $92,143 to $90,298. Warren County falls in the 20,000-39,000 population category. Sheriff Carter's salary fell from $100,155 to $98,151. Shenandoah County falls in the population group of 40,000 to 69,000. Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie Smith's base salary decreased from $66,742 to $65,406 as a result of the local jail closing. Rappahannock County falls within the population group of zero to 10,000 people.

Sheriff Carter said Tuesday he anticipated his $2,000 salary cut and advised the Board of Supervisors of the reduction during its work on the fiscal 2015 budget this spring. The sheriff did not request that the board cover his salary cut with local money.

De Socio explained that the salaries set by the Compensation Board represent the minimum amount paid to each elected officer. Local governments can supplement the salaries. McEathron's office receives a local supplement of about $2,500 because it handles animal control for both the county and Front Royal, Stanley said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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