County receives report on Sheriff’s Department wages

Per request, Correctional Center Major Bobby Reed gave information to the Bourbon County Commission Tuesday morning concerning the wages of the different positions at the Sheriff’s Office as compared to surrounding counties.


In recent weeks, new Commission Chairperson Lynne Oharah had asked Reed for the report, after hearing that the local Sheriff’s Office had lost deputies and staff to other counties and departments because of the low wages.

Reed reached out to six counties for the information, including Linn, Crawford, Neosho, Allen, Anderson and Cherokee counties. When compared to these counties with similar demographics, Bourbon County frequently ranked below average.

“In my opinion, we are low,” Reed said of the wages, while Sheriff Bill Martin pointed out most of the staff are 25-30 percent underpaid compared to other similar positions, while some are as much as 80 percent behind.

Since 2011, Reed said the correctional office, which has 19 staff at any given point, has lost about 44 people because of the non-competitive wages. Undersheriff Ben Cole said the Sheriff’s Office has lost a total of at least 33 employees in that same time, with many of them citing pay as the reason.

Reed and Cole both said retention is a problem at the Sheriff’s Office, as deputies come for training and experience, only to move on to a county or position with higher pay.

“We are basically a training ground that we’re paying for,” Cole said, with training often costing at least $3,500 per officer.

Director of Security Alvin Metcalf said there are also intangible, negative aspects to that attrition and turnover as well, including low morale, lack of experience and the question of safety as deputies have to regularly get accustomed to new fellow deputies.

Oharah said some of the Sheriff’s Office positions no longer compete even with Walmart and other businesses in Bourbon County, with benefits not adding much incentive. The commissioners said they will continue to consider ways they can support the Sheriff’s and Correctional departments to help attract quality deputies.

“This is not an easy process,” county attorney Justin Meeks said. “It can’t happen overnight.”

See below for comparisons of the actual hourly rate of certain positions according to a state-wide study done in 2015.

Undersheriff: Bourbon $16.57, Neosho $23.40, Allen $21.35, Anderson $18.58, Cherokee $18.77

Deputy Sheriff: Bourbon $13.15, Neosho $19.03, Allen $15.30, Anderson $15.92, Cherokee County $10.25

Correctional Center Supervisors: Bourbon $12.21, Allen $18.83, Cherokee $10.50, Crawford $17.86

Corrections/Detention Officers: Bourbon $10.39, Neosho $12.02, Allen $10.50, Anderson $14.78, Cherokee $10.50

6 thoughts on “County receives report on Sheriff’s Department wages”

  1. Can anyone of us in the PRIVATE SECTOR say that we haven’t left a job for more money? And taken that training and used it in another job?

    @ Lynne Oharah, what more do you want from us taxpayers???

  2. The pay is ridiculous, why would anybody in their right mind want a job that requires them to put their life on the line for that kind of money. The guy that mows my lawn makes $20hr, and when my wife gets her hair done she’s paying $100 for basically 2 hours of service. Let’s see, $15hr to deliver pizza, or have to wear a bullet proof and deal with all the problems of this town/county for $13hr………Yeah, maybe this county needs to pull it’s head all the way out and see the light. You get what you pay for, and what could be more important than public safety? Maybe we can “adjust” all those $30-50hr jobs in City Hall and re-allocate some funds to where we need it. After all, how much should somebody get paid for showing up and cutting a few ribbons once in a while?

    1. > Maybe we can “adjust” all those $30-50hr jobs in City Hall and re-allocate some funds to where we need it.

      I’m not aware of a bunch of jobs at City Hall that make $104,000 per year? Which jobs are you referring to?

      1. $30hr comes to $62,400yr………There’s a list of all the salaries somewhere if you search for it……From the Chamber of Commerce to the Economic Development manager on up, you’ll be shocked at the pay they get compared to the “normal” people

        1. Right and $50 per hour comes to $104,000 per year. I choose the top because I figured if you knew of high paying jobs at the city the top ones would be the ones that would most stick out in your mind. But if you are just saying there might be a list somewhere that might have a bunch of jobs listed at $104,000 per year, but you aren’t sure where it is or what is on it, then I understand.

          1. The list should be on the city website as part of the public information, but the heck if I can find it now that I’m looking for it……county has one also, and if memory serves me the top job was $120k yr and there were several at 60-80k

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