With pay for Pendleton County Deputy Sheriff’s Office way behind surrounding counties that compete for quality law enforcement officers, Sheriff Eddie Quinn presented his budget to Pendleton County Fiscal Court. It included a two dollar per hour increase for deputy sheriffs across the board.
Presently, new officers start at $13.95 per hour. The next-lowest competing agency is Cynthiana Police Department at $15.80 per hour and Harrison County Sheriff Office at $16.25.
Over the past several years, Pendleton County has lost several deputy sheriffs to agencies north that pay significantly more.
Newport Police Department starts officers at $23.02 per hour, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at $21.22 per hour and Alexandria Police Department at $20.83 per hour.
Dayton Police Department pays $19.00 per hour.
While noting the need for raising the deputy sheriffs’ wages, magistrates had discussion on whether revenue projections are realistic and would cover the increased costs.
“I don’t want to see an overstep of your revenue,” said District 4 Magistrate Rick Mineer who was zooming in on the meeting while on vacation.
The 2020 budget is projected to have $1,726 in excess fees collected and returned to the fiscal court.
Mineer also pointed out that with the increase retirement burden that the state is shifting to the local governments, the increase will be a significant cost to the county.
After figuring between Judge Executive David Fields and Quinn, it was determined that the total cost to the county for the deputy sheriff’s would be around $40,000.
With the uncertainty of revenue increases, Mineer quoted former Magistrate Gary Veirs.
“Don’t budget a fixed expense with an unfixed revenue.”
The budget included the purchase of two new vehicles with CARES funding from the federal government. It is a one-time receipt of funds.
Two other issues that received discussion was an increase in jail transport costs and fuel costs.
Jail transport had a $7,000 increase in budget as Quinn indicated they are seeing an increase in inmate transport from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. During those hours, the sheriff’s office is responsible for transporting individuals to Campbell County Detention Center.
“We are having a lot of transports throughout the night,” said Fields.
County Attorney Stacey Sanning who was also zooming in commented, “Most felonies occur at night in the dark when they feel they won’t be seen.”
Fuel saw a increase of $4,200 for 2021. The increase led to District 3 Magistrate Darrin Gregg bringing his suggestion to the court back up.
Gregg’s suggestion was for the county to look at contracting with a fuel supplier that would have a tank located at the county road department and the county departments could use it.
Fields indicated that the county uses a Fleet card but District 1 Magistrate Alan Whaley said, “We have not looked at it for awhile. We could do something like the school district did with diesel. All entities come together for a reduced price.”
Fields indicated that the county could look into it.
The budget will be voted on at a special called meeting on Tuesday, December 29 at 6 p.m.
In other action, Fields said that the permit for bridge at Blanket Creek was received and the emergency funding request for bridge on Milford Creek has been sent off.
He also informed the court that they received approval for AOC to pay $4,000 for when the bank at the justice center slid into the creek.
There has been no progress on hoops for the new hoop barn as per Fields, “There are no hoops to be had.”
Mineer expressed a repeated concern that they receive their salt order so that they do not have to pay the $3,000 bill for storage of it.
During closing remarks, Gregg repeated his request that the county purchase a machine to shoulder roads.
“I get a lot of phone calls of people getting over for another vehicle and dragging their mufflers off.”
Fields said he relooked for a machine and found one that would be on the front of a Bobcat but it is rated for a 10,000 pound machine and their Bobcat is 8,900 machine.
Plummer inquired about how the nuisance ordinance enforcement is proceeding.
Fields answered that Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Valentine has closed six cases, people seem to be working with him and he has 26 open cases.