Human resources director Ben Hunt said next year, deputies will make up to $37.64 an hour and in 2025 it will be up to $41.02. The current maximum pay is $33.55 an hour.
Burchett said this pay increase is crucial to retain deputies and encourage recruitment to a dangerous job.
“Our deputies put their lives on the line every day to go out there and assist and make this community safe, and they deserve to be paid for it,” Burchett said.
The agency negotiated the wage increases with its union for about a month or two before coming to an agreement, Hunt said.
In July, Sheriff Deb Burchett wrote in a letter to county commissioners that the agency would request about a $2 million budget increase for next year, with a “substantial portion” to be allocated to the wage increase to allow it to “become competitive in recruiting, employing, and retaining qualified deputies.”
“At this moment, the wage scale of the sheriff’s office is non-competitive,” Burchett wrote in the letter. “The city of Springfield is now paying its police officers $4.75 more per hour (than) Clark County deputies make under the current collective bargaining agreement and 2023 budget.”
Burchett wrote that the agency has worked tirelessly to serve Clark County residents during “times of calm and emergencies,” like the COVID-19 pandemic, community unrest and a mental health crisis. She cited the deaths of deputies Matthew Yates and Suzanne Hopper as outcomes of these risks.
“Throughout the COVID pandemic, sheriff’s deputies were vigilant in performing their duties,” Burchett wrote. “The deputies provided effective and professional service during community unrest. The resulting mental health epidemic has increased the risks which the deputies face daily.”
The sheriff’s office had submitted a proposal in summer 2022 to use part of its funding to increase deputy wages by $3 pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act, Burchett wrote. She said that the agency would have been able to sustain the increase for three years without impacting the county’s general fund.
Burchett told the News-Sun that the wage increase combined with recent changes allowing corrections officers to work in the county jail and just sworn-in deputies to work road patrol instead of the jail first, the sheriff’s office will be more competitive, perhaps losing less deputies to places that pay more, like the Franklin County Jail.
The sheriff said the agency is currently doing “fairly well” with staffing, but still has the occasional shortage, like when deputies are pulled off road patrol to sit with inmates in the hospital — something corrections officers are not able to do.
Burchett said that the raise would not have been possible without the Clark County commissioners and the community.
“We just want to thank the county commissioners and the Clark County community, who are so important to the sheriff’s office,” Burchett said.