Sheriff says low salaries causing employees to leave

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Commissioners decide to look at all county salaries

Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill told commissioners this week that low salaries are causing his employees to take higher paying jobs.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, March 21 and discussed looking at all employee salaries during the upcoming budget process.

Hill said he recently lost his two senior officers who took higher paying jobs and another area is trying to recruit his senior officers now.

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“I’ve offered to take a decrease in my salary to give to my jailers,” Hill said. “It’s a shame what they have to live on.”
Hill said he is not trying to cause any problems, but some of his employees need to be compensated for what they do. He said he doesn’t blame his officers for leaving Polk County for more money.

Commissioners decided the county needs to look at all employee salaries, especially considering no raises have been given the past two fiscal years. The county had a salary study done in 2008 and will use that to evaluate current salaries.

Commissioner Cindy Walker said she’s done a little research through the N.C. Institute of Government comparing Polk County’s salaries with other North Carolina counties of similar size and tax values and Polk is a little low.

“We are a little low,” said Walker. “I’m sure everyone is going to want more money and I’m not sure how we handle it.”
Hill said another issue in his department is that he has officers of the same rank with some making $8,000 more per year than others.

“Just because he’s been there 10 years more doesn’t mean he’s a better officer,” Hill said.

Polk County has steps and grades in its salary ranges and commissioners agreed that is the best approach for employees.

Hill is asking for fiscal year 2011-2012, which begins July 1, for several grade changes, with a total of more than $26,000 in salary increases.

Most of the requested increases come in the detention center, which Hill said no one understands what those officers have to endure with inmates. He mentioned being spit and urinated on as well as having to work days that others have off.

Changing grades in the detention center would mean a $19,100 increase in salaries.