Officers seek public vote on pay raises for HCSO

From Staff Reports

June 18, 2008 - Hopkins County Law Enforcement Association members announced today that a referendum is being sought to raise the pay scale for Hopkins County Sheriff's Office employees.

The group hopes to procure signatures from 3,000 registered Hopkins County voters calling for an election to decide pay raises for sheriff's employees.

HCLEA is seeking what amounts to about a 15 percent across-the-board raise, as they have not received a cost of living increase in the last year. The pay increase will make it easier to recruit and maintain quality officers and employees to provide quality public service and protection to county residents and businesses, according to HCLE president

The petition and referendum would affect the salary levels of all employees of the sheriff's office, including deputies, investigators, the chief deputy, jailers, the jail administrator, records clerks, the receptionist, administrative assistant, the dispatchers and communications supervisor.

They are hoping to collect 3,000 signatures, but must have 2,175 in order to get the issue on the November ballot, which would allow county residents to decide the issue.

HCLEA members plan to go door-to-door as well as to set up at local businesses who permit it, and will have the petitions with them in the community, to collect signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

The law enforcement association successfully organized a similar referendum in 1999, when the vote to increase sheriff's office employee pay passsed by a 1,150 to 980 count. At that time, jailers and deputies in Hopkins County were among the lowest-paid in Texas. Patrol deputies earned $18,000 per year and jailers $14,000. That year in Hunt County, for example, deputies were paid $21,000 and jailers $18,000.

Law enforcement association members blamed high turnover of jailers and deputies on the pay scale, saying the county was paying for training for officers, then losing them to higher-paying agencies in other cities and counties.

The 1999 referendum raised minimum pay for jailers and dispatchers of $18,000 and $25,000 for deputies, and increases of at least 21 percent for all others.

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