Committee discusses deputy pay

St. Francois County Human Resources Director Corey Schrum and Deputy Prince Evans address the commission last week.

St. Francois County is working on improving employment conditions for its deputies.

A committee of officeholders, deputies and concerned citizens have been having multiple meetings on various aspects of what the deputies’ issues are and have started making recommendations to the county commission.

Human Resources Director Corey Schrum and Deputy Prince Evans came before the commission last Tuesday on what the committee decided should be acted upon first.

“We formed a committee several months ago because of some concerns that I was not aware of regarding commissioned officers,” Schrum said. “There is a high turnover, their equipment is old; they have to provide their own handguns when hired on, lack of training. An officer has to spend anywhere from $700-1,000 out-of-pocket before they even have to come to work the first day.

“Also, one of the main things is the pay scale. They only get raises at 1, 2, 3, 5 years, 10 years and 15 years. They don’t get the yearly COLA like the other employees do. Their starting pay is $14.42 per hour.”

Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher interjected, “For a person that has to carry a gun on the job.”

Schrum noted that the city of Farmington police officers get a $1,300 allowance each year for uniforms and related items.

“Our officers only get a choice of shirts and pants or boots once a year and that comes from commissary money,” she said. “We have a recommendation that we would like to present to the commission that would help get us up to first-class status for our officers.

“Our recommendation is a one-time stipend for all commissioned officers of $1,000 and also to request bids so that we can get uniform service weapons for everybody. Because right now, they all supply their own handguns, which are different models.”

Gallaher added that the handguns will be several hundred dollars.

Schrum continued, “Depending on what model they go with, it could be anywhere between $25,000-30,000 for handguns.” Also included in the recommendation would be belts, clips, ammunition and other items.

Gallaher asked, “The $1,000 stipend, will that be taxable?”

Schrum answered, “Yes, and that’s just for commissioned officers.”

Gallaher asked how many officers that would be.

Schrum said about 60.

Gallaher asked where the $60,000 would come from in the budget.

Schrum said out of the roof budget. Gallaher clarified that there was a reserved amount of money to replace the roof on the jail, but not all of it was needed.

Schrum continued, “Sheriff Dan (Bullock) is aware of the recommendation. I believe he was told that we were going to make it, and he was agreeable at the time. He couldn’t be here because of training.”

The action was amended to pay the stipend to commissioned deputies that were employed by the county.

The commission returned to the request for bids to supply service weapons to deputies.

“That includes the service weapons so that we can supply everybody their own uniform weapons,” Schrum said. “It would be county property, they would be issued when they are hired, they have to turn it in when they leave, but it’s all uniform service weapons.”

Gallaher asked who determines the firearms to be used.

Evans answered, “We have an individual at the department, Scott Miller, who is our armorer. He’s been looking into different firearms and discussing it with the sheriff. He’s chosen three, and they are still discussing which firearm it’s going to be.”

Gallaher asked, “Of those three, you will take the best bid, and then that chooses the firearm you would go to?”

Evans affirmed the question.

The commission approved the request for bids for weapons for the sheriff’s department. The funding, if used, would also come from the unused roof replacement budget.

“This isn’t a solution right now, we’re going to keep up with these meetings, we have other ideas, concerns we want to change, things like that. It’s not a long-term solution,” Schrum added.

County Clerk Kevin Engler added, “We want to mention, we had deputies present, officeholders and several citizens at large in different parts of the county that participated in that committee. We appreciate all the citizens that came to the meetings, too, that weren’t being paid to do so.”