Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin is unhappy with the raises of administrative county employees, he said. He would have preferred giving input into raises in his office, including the one given him by the Bourbon County Commissioners.
A raise for elected officials became effective Dec. 15, 2019, according, to Bourbon County Commission minutes. This raised the clerk and treasurer’s salary to $47,248 annually, the register of deeds to 44,821 and the sheriff’s salary to $60,000.
Martin said in his budget request he had asked for a three-percent raise for all his employees.
“I did not request that large amount” for the sheriff’s position, he said.
There were no across-the-board raises given by the commission.
Martin said he was not aware of any raises until he received an email from Bourbon County Clerk Kendall Mason on Dec. 18, 2019.
“At no other time was any raise amount ever discussed with me by the commission, not for myself or any member of my staff,” Martin said. ” I attended several commission meetings where I questioned the commission on budget figures for 2020 and, as usual, I was not ever given any answers. At no time after I submitted my 2020 budget did anyone on the commission engage myself or my jail administration in salary discussions.”
In 2015 Martin had paid for a wage comparison survey and presented it to that Bourbon County Commission because he wanted to bring the salaries of the county employees as a whole up to standard amounts.
He felt it fell on “deaf ears” at the time, he said. It was a different set of commissioners.
For the 2020 Sheriff’s Office budget he had requested a three percent raise for his employees.
Instead, Martin’s salary was raised from $45,000 to $60,000.
He contends that discussions with him and his staff would have been beneficial to the decision making process.
“I am never provided with verbal information or written information as to where the money is put, cut or moved to in the budgets,” Martin said. “My door is always open for any discussion.”
Martin has two salaried employees.
“One of the two fell below the new income guideline set by the Federal Wage Law and the US Department of Labor,” Martin said. “A captain at the correctional center fell under this ‘salaried employee category’ and therefore is required by law to have a salary increase. If this wage increase is not performed, this employee would be eligible for overtime. I can assure you that increasing this wage is far less harmful than allowing this employee to request overtime hours for all the overtime he works. I am still unaware if this salary increase has been added to the correctional center budget. The commission was made aware of this federal law… several months ago.”
Martin said the responsibility of the sheriff’s office falls to him.
“I am the face and the buck stops with me, so to speak, but they are the men and women with their lives on the line every, single day and every single night. Christmas, Easter, Monday through Sunday. They sign up to make a difference in their community where they live. It’s nice to be thanked and appreciated and compensated to prove yourself worthy.”
The county has two many administrative positions, Martin said.
“Our county is now so top-heavy with administration that the people in the offices and on the road and doing the jobs are unable to receive any fair raises and are far from a competitive wage for the jobs they are doing,” Martin said. “Our county has a road and bridge supervisor that makes over $60,880 a year plus benefits. This county has a part-time, county counselor who makes $64,000 a year for 25 hours a week and has a private practice on the side; this is in addition to the county attorney who makes $50,000 a year. This county now pays (not attacking the person) an economic development director… $70,000 a year plus benefits. As of January 1, we have a sheriff making $60,000., a county clerk, making $47,248 a treasurer making that same amount and a register of deeds making $44,821…We have three county commissioners who make $21,416 (each) per year plus benefits, which is another $64,248 plus benefits in a year.”
” I have been requesting additional deputies every year since I have taken office and every year, I am told that there is no money to spend, budgets are close, overspending and overtime are out of control,” Martin said. “Yet, we have almost $200,000 in salaries for administrative staff, who hold jobs that should be performed by our road and bridge director and crews, the elected county clerk, our elected county attorney, and our elected county commission. $200,000 would pay for other staff raises, staff who are on the ground working.”
“It would pay for a much-needed school resource officer for Uniontown Schools plus a courthouse security officer, which is mandated by the state,” he said. “I cannot get anyone to understand that when you pay a deputy a $35,000 a year salary, you are better off to hire two more deputies on the force and reducing the $60,000 in overtime pay. I am contending that if they would not have raised my pay $15,000, they could have very easily allowed me to hire one new deputy and they would have been ahead money. Where did all this money come from and how do we put these jobs back in the hands of the people who were elected to do them and eliminate all the huge salaries that we are paying right now.”
The sheriff’s office operates around the clock much like an ambulance service or hospital does, he said. And some of his employees are struggling financially.
“People do a great job for great pay,” Martin said. “People do a decent job for decent pay and proud people show up to work to draw a wage rather than go on welfare. Some of my employees can claim state insurance benefits for their families and that is shameful to think that we cannot provide a wage above the poverty level… I also have other employees who work two and three jobs and I cannot control what my employees do outside their duty time… during my time as a deputy, I worked three jobs to provide for my family and pay my bills.”