Aransas County commissioners, at their special meeting Monday, March 15, approved a 10% pay increase for jailers at the Aransas County Detention Center (ACDC) in an attempt to ward off continued loss in staff to surrounding agencies that are offering higher pay.
Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills told the court about his staffing issues at the commissioners’ March 8 meeting. In between the March 8 and March 15 meetings Mills, Commissioner Pat Rousseau, and County Auditor Jacky Cockerham met to come up with a proposed solution to bring back to the court.
At the March 8 meeting Mills told the court he has to schedule forced overtime, which is costing about $660 per day. He noted he paid $22,000 in overtime in January, and the budget is $30,000 for the entire year.
Mills said two additional employees had resigned since the March 8 meeting.
He asked the court to raise jailers’ salaries 10%, and address other salaries in the Sheriffs Department in next year’s budget.
Mills noted a 15% increase would put jailers’ pay above a deputy’s pay (without adjusting deputy pay) and that wouldn’t be fair, considering the duties involved.
Commissioner Wendy Laubach asked the sheriff what the answer is to solving his staffing problem.
Mills said he would like to see a 10% increase for jailers and deputies.
Laubach noted such an increase would amount to about $300,000, which would have to come out of the general fund.
Mills said he returned about $600,000 out of his budget (unspent) to the general fund last year.
Auditor Jacky Cockerham said the amount returned included roughly $170,000 in salaries saved due to attrition.
She said a 10% increase for jailers and 5% increase for deputies would run about $300,000, and a 10% raise for both would cost roughly $370,000.
Commissioner Bubba Casterline, who made the original motion to increase jailers’ pay 5%, in order to open discussion, said he didn’t mind changing his motion to 10% for jailers.
County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills said if salaries for jailers and deputies are raised “we’ll have problems in the other departments.”
Laubach said the current staffing situation at the ACDC is an emergency that needs to be addressed.
It was also noted by the court that salaries in other departments can be addressed in next year’s budget.
Commissioner Pat Rousseau said the sheriff requested pay raises for jailers and deputies in the current budget, but they weren’t granted.
Cockerham said the sheriff’s request for a 10% increase in jailers’ salaries will cost about $230,000.
“We’re already spending that in overtime,” said Commissioner Jack Chaney.
The motion was made to approved a 10% increase for jailers only. It was seconded and approved unanimously.