Board discusses sheriff’s deputy pay disparity

WOODSTOCK – A state agency’s decision to give pay raises to sheriff’s deputies across Virginia worsened a problem facing Shenandoah County.

The Compensation Board authorized a 2 percent salary increase for deputies funded by the state. The increase applies only to the compensation amounts allocated by the Compensation Board and does not cover supplemental pay provided by the local government.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and other representatives of his agency discussed the potential pay disparity with the Board of Supervisors on Thursday. Carter also gave a presentation on a retention pay study for his agency.

With the state salary increases set to take effect Aug. 1, the discussion ended with no solution, though Carter suggested the county could use existing funds to fix the disparity.

The Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office employs 68 people. The state provides most of the funds for 40 positions while the county covers the salaries of 25. Edinburg funds two sheriff’s deputies through an agreement between the county agency and the town. The state also covers the sheriff’s salary. The Compensation Board covers 81 percent of the cost for the state-funded employees while the county pays for the remaining 19 percent.

The Board of Supervisors adopted a fiscal 2018 budget that does not include salary increases for any county employees, including those covered in the Sheriff’s Office with local funds. Chairman Conrad Helsley, Vice Chairman Richard Walker and Supervisors Cindy Bailey and Marsha Shruntz voted in favor of the budget that held salaries and spending levels steady. Supervisors John R. “Dick” Neese and Steve Baker did not support the budget.

Much of the discussion focused on whether or not the $42,000 came from state sources and Carter noted his opposition early on to using that money to fix the disparity.

Carter also used the time to remind the board that the county failed to implement the recommendations of a salary study of his department.

In his presentation, Carter pointed out that the Springsted consulting firm came up with three recommendations that called for the county to budget certain amounts to fix the disparity. County Administrator Mary T. Price recommended in her proposed budget for fiscal 2018 that the county appropriate about $140,000. That amount did not end up in the budget adopted by the board.

Carter suggested that the funds exist to help fix the problem. His agency has approximately $80,000 in its fund balance that could go toward the cost to bring the Compensation Board employees under the county’s payroll. Carter said he recently received authorization to use $80,000 from his asset forfeiture fund. The county also could use $59,000 allocated in the fiscal 2018 budget to pay for software, Carter said.