Board approves $50,000 to fund jailers’ raises

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Voices were raised Monday as the Lincoln County Board ofSupervisors and the sheriff struggled to determine whether and howto come up with nearly $50,000 to fund raises for jailers at theLincoln County Jail.

The board eventually agreed to provide the funding on a 3-2vote. District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson and DistrictFour Supervisor Doug Moak opposed the move.

Sheriff Wiley Calcote proposed raising the salary of the 14Lincoln County jailers from an average of $6 an hour toapproximately $8 to $9 an hour. He estimated the total cost ofthose raises from now until the start of the next budget year to beapproximately $50,000, including the associated increase in fringebenefits.

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Calcote said he cannot keep jailers because after they aretrained and certified –¬†which costs the county $350 –¬†they arelured away to jails with a higher pay scale.

“You can spend some money now or more money later to keepcertifying jailers after they go to another county,” he said.

Supervisors agreed that the raise was needed but balked at thetiming.

Moak suggested the board wait until the next budgetary period toprovide the raises.

“I don’t think you can make these kind of adjustments inmid-year,” he said. “I just don’t know where we’d get themoney.”

“You have been putting me off since the last budget,” Calcotereplied. “I may call you in the morning to help run the jailbecause they’re about to walk out. They all have better joboffers.”

The sheriff implied the board could use money the sheriff’soffice has saved the county since he took office last January tofund the jailers’ raises. According to Calcote, he has saved thecounty $28,000 in contracted work now performed at no cost byinmate work crews and the jail’s food budget has dropped from$158,000 to $40,000 with the advent of the jail kitchen and inmategarden.

“Nobody is arguing that,” said County Administrator DavidFields. “We’re just dealing with a very delicate cash inflow, andto come and tell them we need to find an extra $50,000 istough.”

Fields informed the board that the jail has remained within itsbudget this year.

The amount of the raise was never questioned.

“You can’t live on $6 an hour, but I think $9 is ok,” saidDistrict Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson made the motion tofund the raises, saying, “There are times you have to make harddecisions. This is one of those times.”

Before supervisors voted, Calcote told them it is possible themoney would not be needed. Many of the expenses for the year, suchas supplies, have already been purchased.

“I’m asking for that money in case I need it. I may not,” hesaid. “But I don’t want to tell them I’m giving them a raise andthen not have the money later.”

After the vote, Williamson cautioned the board that money wouldbe tight next year, citing the state budget crisis.

“I will not vote to raise taxes,” he warned. “We have to startcutting somewhere, sometime.”