Board approves raises for deputy sheriffs


LOCK HAVEN — Following their negotiations with AFSCME Council 86, the Clinton County Salary Board approved changes coming to the grades and salaries of all full-time deputy sheriffs.

“Coming out of the budget discussions for 2019 there were some salary issues to address from the row offices, and this is the last of the leftover salary issues that needed addressed. Now we will have the salary scale set as we want it,” said Clinton County Commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz Thursday morning.

“Negotiations are over,” Smeltz said of a verbal agreement from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. He said “they have not signed and returned the hard copy of that agreement.”

Moving forward, the grade for a new-hire in the position of full time deputy sheriff will be changed from Grade E to Grade F with a starting salary of $28,891.

The grade for a full-time deputy who has completed their required training and passes all certifications will move to Grade H with a starting salary of $31,354.

Salaries for deputy sheriffs Justin Breon and Hunter Hall were approved at $31,354, effective the first pay period of 2019.

Deputy sheriff Ryan Bratton will be Grade F until he attends a two-week waiver class, said Sheriff Kerry Stover.

The board also approved a salary increase of an additional one percent for the three most senior full-time deputy sheriffs, Melissa Fernburg, Scott Sorgen, and Steven Yandell, also effective the first pay period of 2019.

“You look at these shooting situations locally… without good extraction and de-escalation skills, what we do certainly has risks. Law enforcement is dying in the streets like never before. The state mandates that they are trained for almost five months. It is about knowledge and experience,” Stover said.

The sheriff noted that it costs the county $13,000 to fully train a deputy.

“We need good, quality people who won’t run to state or federal jobs. Even Lowes or First Quality pay competitive wages without that risk associated with the job. Knowledge and experience… keeping these people goes a long way,” he said.

“It is a more competitive wage, and I would think that everyone in the room shares your concerns,” Smeltz said.

Along the same line of worker retention, the salary board also approved changes to the grade and salaries of deputy warden for custody and deputy warden for treatment at the Clinton County Correctional Facility, effective the first pay period of 2019, from Grade P to Grade Q, at a starting salary of $48,641, and salary increases for the two current deputy wardens as established by the salary board at their Jan. 7, 2019 meeting.

Changes are also coming to the grade and salary of the executive assistant/fiscal operations supervisor at the correctional facility, from Grade O to Grade P, with a starting salary of $46,325 and a salary increase according to the same promotion policy.

“Maintaining the responsibility of 260 detainees and the staff warrants this raise,” said CCCF Warden Angela Hoover, who was in attendance Thursday. “It really is a 24/7 job, and these wages will match the demands of those positions.”