Nearly 200 Pima County deputies and sergeants received pay raises Sunday, but the union says it doesn’t go far enough to address the department’s pay disparities.
The pay increases affected 174 trainees, deputies and sergeants within the sheriff’s department and were issued as a result of the county’s newly implemented budget. The estimated cost is $1.14 million.
Wages for trainees increased from $20.85 per hour to $22.62 per hour and affected 19 department employees, according to a memo from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
In one category, 129 deputies had their pay increase from $23.50 per hour to $25.50 per hour.
A pay bump was also received by a classification of sergeants, who saw pay go from $33.96 per hour to $36.23 per hour, according to the memo.
The sheriff’s department is made up of 500 sworn personnel who patrol an area of 9,200 miles, according to the department’s website. An internal document from April shows that staffing levels for the department at the time included 399 sworn personnel. PCSD stood behind the number reported on the website, saying it’s current.
The cost of the hourly pay increases is $636,368 but with variable benefit costs factored in, which include employer contributions to the Public Safety Retirement System, workman’s compensation, unemployment insurance and more, the total cost of the pay increases is $1,141,581.
The Pima County Deputy Sheriff’s Association has mixed opinions on the recent pay increases, according to a statement from the union’s board.
“On one hand our senior, probationary, and future deputies will be pleased. On the other hand our core/majority deputies are still being neglected,” the board said in the statement. “All deputies pose the same concern: pay ranges. Pay ranges for deputies and sergeants has finally moved up, but nothing was put in place to achieve these ranges.”
As an example of the concern with pay ranges, the board cited the recent promotion of five captains, who skipped the beginning captain pay grade and started at the top of the pay range.
“PCDSA will attempt to address this concern with the county through the Meet and Confer process,” according to the statement.
The department has been working closely with Huckleberry and the Pima County Board of Supervisors to make adjustments to deputy compensation, Sheriff Mark Napier told the Star in an email, adding that he’s pleased with the most recent round of pay increases.
“The Sheriff’s Department has committed itself to better fiscal management and where possible to leverage this toward compensation increases for our members,” Napier said. “We must ensure our compensation is competitive to ensure we attract and retain the highest quality personnel. Over the past two fiscal years we have made good strides in this direction.”
Napier said he continues to be proud of all the PCSD employees who work tirelessly every day to provide excellent service to the community.
In January, 146 deputies and 222 corrections officers received 5% pay increases and retention incentives. The following month, roughly 240 Pima County corrections officers received pay increases, with trainees now starting at $19.52 per hour and corrections officers being paid $21.50 per hour, in an effort to attract qualified candidates. The new rates make Pima County corrections officers the highest paid in the state. They were previously paid $17.52 per hour.
More raises are still to come: Under the new budget, all county employees earning less than $45,000 a year will see a 4% pay increase in September. Employees making more than $45,000 will receive a 2% increase.