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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Sheriff to make formal request for pay raise for his deputies in hearing Thursday

LAWRENCCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 13, 2023 - Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day is expected to make his formal request for pay increases for his public safety staff.

Photo: In February two officers were shot in the line of duty this year. Lawrence County deputies now are the lowest paid among area police agencies

Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day during his presentation ahead of the 2024 budget hearings have asked for pay raises for all of his staff.

The public works session is set to begin at 4:30 pm Thursday afternoon at the Lawrence County courthouse.

The county has spent approximately over $1 million in training costs to hire deputies, jail staff and 911 dispatchers due to low pay and benefits compared to other departments and private sector jobs.

Thursday is just a presentation with no action taken by the Lawrence County Council on the request of several office holders and department heads.

This year's budget is the highest on record which is proposed at $36 million for 2024. Property owners had a estimated 20-26 % increase in property taxes in 2023. The assessed value in Lawrence County is $2 billion.

Last year, the Lawrence County took three votes on pay raises for county employees.

Sheriff Day made his presentation with several of his deputies, court security, transport officers, jail officers and family who packed the Lawrence County Circuit courtroom Tuesday night.

The 2024 budget hearings will began on September 7th at 4:30 pm.

Photo: Sheriff Greg Day talks to his deputies prior to the Lawrence County Council meeting Tuesday night

Since 2019, the Lawrence County council members have not kept their promises to the deputies that have led to a revolving door of experienced police officers.

  • Lawrence County ranks last in starting pay no matter who compared to other police agencies

  • Lawrence County ranks next to last in top pay

  • It takes 30 years to reach the top pay, compared to 20 years for others

  • The top pay in Lawrence County is less than several agencies starting pay

  • The pay is worse when compared to several agencies pay higher promotion wages, shift differential pay and specialty pay

The starting pay for a Lawrence County Sheriff deputy is $48,673 which leaves the county's pay at the bottom of all the area police agencies.

Photo: The Lawrence County courtroom was packed with court security, dispatchers, along with off duty deputies and their families Tuesday night

Sheriff Day has proposed the 4 percent pay increase like the proposed pay increases for county elected leaders/employees but an additional $12,000 across the board for his deputies including the Chief Deputy.

In addition, Sheriff Day has proposed the following:

Moving the following staff from a "C" scale which is considered a receptionist to "E" scale.

Those employees include:

  • One animal control officer

  • Four security officers

  • Three transport officers

  • One civil processor

  • Lawrence County 911 dispatchers proposed pay increase to "A" scale for skilled labor and $1,000 in addition to the 4 percent pay increase proposed for the 2024 budget.

The proposed pay increases total $392, 536 in 2024.

Photo: Lawrence County 911 Central dispatch has 11 dispatchers to handle emergency calls have been faced with high turnover of employees

Lawrence County Council did not keep 2019 agreement with the officers:

In 2019, the Spring Mill Lodge #172 which a collective bargaining unit for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department met with the Lawrence County Commissioners, and Lawrence County Council to improve pay, retirement, and benefits.

In their meeting with former Sheriff Mike Branham, county council and the Lawrence County merit board to try and improve retirement. The officers agreed to pay a portion of their retirement which was previously paid by the county. In the agreement the officers were told if they paid that portion Lawrence County would raise the retirement to 56 percent that year and then to 62 percent the following year.

The officers have done as agreed; however, the retirement is still at 56 percent. The officers are wanting it raised to 62 percent to honor the agreement in 2019.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department have faced a large turnover over the last five years with 19 police officers leaving the department costing the county $1.5 million in training costs to rehire personnel.

Photo: On February 5, 2023, two police officers was shot and injured on Indiana State 37 at Sinclairs gas station. Lawrence County deputy Joshua Rhoades was among the injured

Lawrence County officer shot in line of duty this year:

On February 5, 2023, Deputy Josh Rhoades was shot twice being struck once in his right arm and once through his genitals.

Officer Rhoades was off work for more than four months and the trauma never disappears.

At this time, it is not known what the Lawrence County Council will do with this year's budget proposed over $3-4 million in 2023.

The Lawrence County faced Judicial mandates from county judges forcing the county council to raise pay for court staff.

Photo: Lawrence County Deputy Joshua Rhoades works an accident scene near Springville after being off the job for more than four months

In addition, the county elected leaders have asked for pay increases with the county council to give the elected leaders more than a 20 percent pay increase to the Republican office holders.

In last year's budget hearing, it took county council members three separate votes to determine the amount of raises county employees will receive in 2023.

The county elected leaders wanting the same amount of pay the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department received at 5 percent.

Four of the county's elected leaders pay exceeds that of a deputy.

  • County Recorder from $43,200 to $49,817 - 15 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 21 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Treasurer from $43,200 to $50,507 - 16 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 22 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Clerk from $43,530 to $52,046 -19 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 25 percent pay increase for both budget years

  • County Assessor from $44,530 to $52,251 - 17 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - Total 23 percent pay increase for both budget years

  • County Auditor from $44,530 to $53,625 - 20 percent increase add $3,300 for secretary for Commissioners and Council. Add 5 percent increase for 2023 $56,306 which is a 26 percent increase

The Lawrence County Zephyr will monitor developments in the 2024 budget process.

The full video of the Lawrence County council meeting is available on the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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