FAIRBURY, NE — Law enforcement officers in Jefferson County are getting a raise.
On Tuesday, the County Commissioners unanimously accepted Sheriff Nick Georgi’s proposal to increase the wage scale for deputies by 4.3%. Georgi says the pay bump will help get the department to full staff.
“So this was something that needed to be done - one, to be able to hire new deputies here, and two to be able to keep the deputies that we send to the academy here,” Georgi said.
The department uses a seven step wage scale which now runs from 19.50/hour to $24.00/hour for deputies, an increase from the previous range of $18.69 to $23.00. Sergeants, jailers, administrative workers and cooks saw similar increases. According to a comparability study performed in May, the raise will put the wage scale in the mid range for counties of a similar size in Nebraska.
Commissioner Mark Schoenrock says this will help keep quality workers in Jefferson County.
“So that we don’t pull people in here and then we expend Jefferson County tax money to train them and everything and then they go somewhere else because they can get paid better somewhere else,” Schoenrock said.
The raise comes as deputies consider unionizing. Georgi says deputies started a case in the Commission of Industrial Relations about forming a possible union. He says their main complaint was about wages.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the Commissioners said the pay raise would have happened regardless of any union talks.
For Georgi, he thinks higher wages help with keeping the county safe.
“When we’re short deputies, we’re short coverage," Georgi said. "Shifts are running lower than normal with deputies. Obviously, keeping a full staff will, in the long run, give better coverage to the community.”
The new wage scale takes effect next week. Georgi says news of the raise has already helped generate more applicants for the departments two open jobs.