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Boyle Fiscal Court supports $1 raise for jail

After Magistrate Jack Hendricks made a motion to increase Boyle County Detention Center employees’ pay rates by $1 an hour across the board Tuesday, quite a bit of conversation was held about whether or not the court has the right to do so.

“Brandstetter Carroll reports have made it very very clear that what keeps us out of a lot of lawsuits and saves us a lot of money is our employees at the jail,” Hendricks said at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.

The final report on the jail and the local criminal justice system was released by the consulting company on Friday. It recommends substantial changes in case processing, adding alternatives to incarceration and construction of a 450-bed jail, among many other things.

“They need a pay raise. I’m recommending $1 an hour for all of our employees, and it won’t bring them up to even the midrange, which was represented in this report a year ago,” Hendricks said. He said he had requested information from county Treasurer and Deputy Judge-Executive Mary Conley over the summer assessing what such a pay raise would cost.

“From what she gave me back in August, the total cost for everything is $121,082 — the entire cost. Of course it would be split 65/35 with Mercer County,” he said.

Boyle and Mercer counties have an interlocal agreement splitting the cost of the jail 65/35 between them. In January, that cost-share ratio is likely to change, with Mercer expected to pay around 30 percent instead of 35.

Hendricks said he’d already mentioned his idea to Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman, and “asked him if he’d also bring it up to his court. He very well may not. To say the least, Mercer County has been difficult to deal with to give our people raises, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Jailer Barry Harmon said currently, starting pay at the jail is $11.50 an hour. “It’s a step in the right direction,” he said, adding they’ve brought new people in who have quit soon after, due to getting job offers making $4 to $5 more an hour. “So they leave. This will help.”

Judge-Executive Harold McKinney questioned who has the authority to approve the raise, since Mercer pays 35 percent of the costs. “I’ve got to talk to Lynne (Dean, county attorney,) a little bit, but I think we’ve got the authority to make this change if we want to.”

Magistrate John Caywood said he agreed with what Hendricks wants to do, “but obviouwsly, this will ripple through a lot of other folks. We’ll hear it in our committees,” he said, specifically referring to EMS.

McKinney said he didn’t disagree with the assertion raises are needed at the jail. “Procedurally, I’d like to look at it before we make that vote, and meet back over it at the next meeting.”

Hendricks again referred to the Brandstetter Carroll report. “A deputy jailer, what most of the people are out there, the minimum they suggested was (annually) $22,700; mid-range was $29,600; max was $36,000.”

Hendricks said the average deputy at the jail now makes $26,200. “We’ve got $2,000 to go to even get to the mid-range. I feel they do a tremendous job, and have saved us tons of money by being the people they are. If there’s one thing I learned a long time ago, you have to take care of your employees before you do anything else.”

“We’ve heard it with EMS also,” Caywood said. “We’ve gotten the same request, and those folks do a great job, as we all know. It’s going to have a ripple effect. Let’s just put it on the table and realize this is the road we’re going down.”

Magistrate Phil Sammons said, “But everybody don’t work at the jail.” He said it may very well have a ripple effect, but if anyone comes forward complaining, “send them out to the jail and let them work for a day.”

As Caywood began to interject, McKinney reminded them all to stay civil.

“We will,” Caywood said. “Phil, I respect what you’re saying. But I would say the folks who ride on EMS will say a similar thing in that their role is very important also. Let’s look at the total picture — how will A affect B and affect C.”

“These guys have something that nobody else has,” Sammons said, motioning over to EMS Director Mike Rogers. “Know what it is? Hazardous pay. Jail don’t have it, and working there is more dangerous than picking up a sick patient. Every department ought to be making more money.”

McKinney said it’s a tight labor market at the moment.

“That’s why I think we we need to be looking at the revenue streams … figure it out,” Caywood said.

“That’s something the new court’s got to look at,” Sammons said.

Caywood asked for specification — are they making the call for the raise, or recommending it to the Joint Jail Committee or the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

“I think the judge (Dedman) mentioned it to the Joint Jail Committee, but it hasn’t been approved. I think it’s our responsibility to start the ball rolling,” Hendricks said.

“But who makes the final decision? We’re going to make a recommendation?” Caywood asked again.

“No, I think what (Hendricks) is saying is it’s done today,” McKinney said.

Caywood then expressed concern over Mercer County not being approached with the idea. “They don’t have a say-so?” he asked.

“I’m not comfortable saying that,” County Attorney Dean said. She said she wasn’t aware the item was on the agenda for the day since it was added last minute, and she hadn’t been able to research it.

Caywood said, “We’re spending their money — confuses me that we’re able able to do that.”

“I’m not sure that you are,” Dean said.

McKinney then said if it’s a “recommendation, that’s something entirely different.” He wanted to go on record that he is for the raise. “But procedurally, I’m trying to figure out who’s got the authority across the board.”

Hendricks said he’s fine with “making it a recommendation. Whatever you all think … is the best way to go. But we got to get the ball rolling.”

Some discussion was held about how the next Joint Jail Committee meeting isn’t until December.

“I would like to make (the motion) that we approve it. If it gets changed later, than that’s OK,” Hendricks said, indicating it could be dealt with more later.

McKinney then called for the vote to give the raises, contingent on similar approval from Mercer County Fiscal Court. It passed unanimously.