By Tony Parra
Discussions over a $3 hour increase in the pay for Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department deputies came to a halt because of a lack of funds.
Officials at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s department said during Tuesday’s county commission meeting that there is little interest in an opening for a deputy’s position, and the department is concerned they might not be able to attract anyone to work for the current pay scale.
Roosevelt County Sergeant Rick Short suggested the pay increase as a way of attracting certified candidates and maintaining the current deputies.
“We’re not able to attract certified candidates,” Short said. “We’re in a crunch to hire a qualified person.”
Short said there are seven applicants for the opening, but none of them are certified. In addition to the vacancy, Short said one deputy is training in the academy and two reported to National Guard duty.
Short compared the hourly pay of Roosevelt County deputies to those across the state in counties which were classified B-Over, and said that Roosevelt County deputies had the second-lowest pay of counties at that level and average $2.24 per hour less than B-Over counties.
Others at the meeting questioned the reasons for grouping Roosevelt County with those counties.
The classification for a county is based on total property value and population of each county according to the Department of Finance and Administration Local Government Division Web site.
A county with Class B-Over status has $300 million or more in property values and a population less than 100,000. Roosevelt County, according to county clerk Joyce Fraze, is at around 18,000 people and county assessor Royene Tivis said the county’s total property value is approximately $200 million, which would classify Roosevelt County as a Class B-under county.
Those figures would qualify Roosevelt as a Class B-Under county, with property value between $75 million to $300 million and a population of less than 100,000.
Short presented to the commissioners priorities to help the department:
• A $3 hourly increase in pay across the board,
• Reducing the retirement plan from 25 years to 20 years, and
• Hiring more deputies to help the shortage.
“I’d like to address the timeliness of this request,” Tom Clark, county commissioner, said. “This should have been presented before the last budget.”
Short countered by saying a similar proposal was presented before the last budget proposal in the spring, but those increases were denied.
In response, commissioner Dennis Lopez said the reason those increases were denied was a lack of funds. Lopez directed County Administrator Charlene Hardin to meet with sheriff’s department officials to discuss if any of the priorities are feasible in the budget.
The commissioners also listened in to a group of residents who complained about South Roosevelt Road 10, which is located in district 2, Chad Davis’ district. Residents stated the road was a bus and mail route and they were concerned for the safety of the residents and their children because of huge holes on the road.
Joe Kirkpatrick, a resident who lives in the area, said the damage was caused by a wet, heavy snow which hit the area. Kirkpatrick said the road wasn’t bladed and when the road was soft after the precipitation, the dairy trucks tore up the road. Kirkpatrick said truck drivers for two dairies use the road.
“The roads were not designed for the dairy trucks,” Kirkpatrick said. “I wouldn’t anticipate it being chipped and sealed, but I would anticipate repairing the holes.”
Davis said he is working on it and that Jackie Grimes, road superintendent, will have someone work on the patchwork as soon as possible. No timetable was given.