Sheriffs to get pay raises starting July 1

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

JACKSON – Mississippi sheriffs will get their first pay raise in several years, starting July 1. Depending on where they serve, the raise could be as little as $9,000 or as much as $20,000.

Gov. Phil Bryant – who started his career in the 1970s as a Hinds County deputy sheriff – signed the pay raise measure, House Bill 1409, on Friday. The new law gives more generous raises to sheriffs in smaller counties.

Each sheriff is paid based on how many people live in the county, and the law collapses eight current population-based pay brackets into five new ones.

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Under current law, sheriffs’ pay ranges from $55,000 in counties with 9,500 or fewer residents to $90,000 in any county with at least 200,000 people. Only one county, Hinds, is in the current largest category, according to the Census Bureau website.

The sheriffs’ pay scale under the new law:

• $75,000 in any county with fewer than 15,000 residents.

• $80,000 in any county with a population of 15,000 to 34,000.

• $85,000 in any county with a population of 34,000 to 45,000.

• $90,000 in any county with a population of 45,000 to 100,000.

• $99,000 in any county with a population of more than 100,000.

Population figures are based on the most recent census, and under the new law, DeSoto, Harrison, Jackson and Rankin counties fall into the largest population category.

Lincoln County’s population as of the 2010 census was 34,900.

“It’s been a lot of years since the sheriffs saw a pay raise,” said Pike County Sheriff Mark Shepherd, president of the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association, in an earlier story on the pay raise. “We work 24/7.”

Proponents of the bill said a previous $10 increase in process-serving fees was meant to finance pay increases, but legislation to mandate it was never enacted.

Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, said earlier this monththere will be no cost to taxpayers because these fees have been collected for years.

“The sheriffs have been saying this for a while – that they did not want to cost taxpayers any more money, and so the fees were put into place to create the funds necessary,” she said.

“This money has been collected for years, and has gone into the county’s general fund. The problem is that the legislation needed to direct the funds to sheriffs was never written. I think it is time we used the money for what it was intended for, and that’s why I was behind the bill,” Currie said.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said the new bill is a redirection of funds. “It’s not an increase in funding,” Gunn said in a previous news story. “It just redirects the funds to the sheriffs, which is where it was originally intended to go.”

The bill passed the House 120-1 on Feb. 11 and the Senate 48-3 on March 11

(The above story was compiled from Associated Press and Daily Leader Staff reports.)