Board votes to fix pay problem in Sheriff’s Office

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County leaders took action Tuesday to fix pay disparity among Sheriff’s Office employees.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 with one member abstaining to provide up to $65,000 to the Sheriff’s Office. The money would provide a salary increase to agency employees on the county pay scale. The action would mirror the 2-percent salary increase that employees paid at least in part by the state received effective Aug. 1.

County employees received no salary increases in the fiscal 2018 budget approved in the spring by Cindy Bailey, Conrad Helsley, Marsha Shruntz and Richard Walker. Some employees saw their salaries decrease by $50 per month because the budget did not cover the entire increase in health insurance costs.

The motion made by Vice Chairman Richard Walker and seconded by Bailey limited county funding of this one-time allocation to $40,000 with the remaining amount to come from the Sheriff’s Office. Walker did not specify the source of the county’s share. The motion also noted that the allocation will be made on the condition that the employees whose salaries are covered by the state Compensation Board will be put on the county’s pay scale.

“I just wanted a commitment from this board that we are willing and able to commit this $40,000 to solve this problem that has been ongoing and that was the purpose of my motion,” Walker said.

The vice chairman explained that the board action adjusts the salary scale for the Sheriff’s Office and brings the agency into the county pay system effective retroactively to Aug. 1.

Sheriff Timothy Carter said he likely would cover the remaining amount from unspent money left over from last fiscal year or from asset forfeiture funds his agency receives through its work with federal law enforcement agencies.

District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker, District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz, District 4 Supervisor Bailey and Walker, who represents District 3, voted in favor of the motion.

Helsley, of District 6, abstained from voting. Helsley said he felt concerned about providing a salary increase to some employees and not others but noted that the county needs to fix the pay disparity in the Sheriff’s Office. Helsley noted earlier that Carter likely can only use asset forfeiture funds to cover his share of the cost since any leftover money in his budget technically comes from the county.

District 1 Supervisor John R. “Dick” Neese voted against the motion and pointed out that no other employees received raises in the current budget though he did voice support for the idea of bringing the Sheriff’s Office onto the county pay system.

The county will need to fund the entire amount in subsequent budgets. Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass pointed out that the county likely would use the $40,000 allocation from the fund balance to cover its share.