Sheriff's office employees are getting raises

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:32 p.m.

Most Alachua County sheriff's employees will be getting a raise, despite Sheriff Sadie Darnell losing battles to the County Commission for extra money the past two years.

Instead, paychecks will be boosted with money saved by cutting extra pay for holiday work. Raises vary but are in the 2.5 percent range.

"It was done rather creatively," Darnell said. "We looked at our budget and recognized the reality ... that raises were not going to be possible based on any of the normal revenue sources, because the economy is still pretty bleak, so we looked at benefit packages."

Employees had an opportunity to vote on the changes. Only sworn officers at the jail and deputies at the jail voted against the measure and will not be getting a raise. They will continue to be paid double time and a half for holiday work.

Darnell for the past two years has fought with the commission over pay raises, seeking extra money in her budget. Commissioners did not give extra money, instead suggesting she trim other areas of the budget for raises if they were such a high priority.

The sheriff and other constitutional officers are allocated money by the county but have leeway to spend it as they see fit.

Implementing the Sheriff's Office pay raise will cost about $899,000, of which about $700,000 is from the elimination of extra holiday pay and a change to pre-approved leave benefits. The rest of the money will come from position vacancies.

The changes earned support from most employees. For instance, of the 147 deputies who voted, 111 favored it, 34 opposed it and two were unclear. Civilian jail staff favored the change by a 58 to six margin.

"We did something apparently for the first time here - put it out for a vote," Darnell said. "Some people clearly gave up their benefit in order for the greater good to have raises pretty much across the board with the exception of the jail."

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