This request comes less than 30 days before the budget is expected to be approved, but according to Gleason’s team, it could not have come any sooner because of a lack of data comparing the sheriff’s department pay rates with other area departments. The higher rates will allow for corrections officers to transfer to law enforcement positions without taking a pay cut as well as helping the county retain officers.
Gleason and Lt. Willam New from the sheriff’s department presented the pay scale charts as well as comparisons with other surrounding cities as a part of an agenda item submitted by the budget office at the Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 2.
In 2021, the Commissioners Court allowed a 17% increase for corrections salaries, but no change was made on the law enforcement side. According to New, because of this disparity, a jail officer has no incentive to move to law enforcement because the pay decreases with the move.
“When jailers go to school for a year and want to advance their career, they actually get a pay cut to switch to the law enforcement side,” New said. “And what this ultimately means is that our time, our training and our experience and our community tax dollars are benefiting other local agencies because they're leaving instead of going to patrol here; they're going elsewhere.”
In June, the Commissioners Court gave law enforcement a salary increase.
“To be factually correct, between the step and what was approved by the court was $2.9 million in an average better than 7%. I just want to be fair because that's the truth,” County Judge Bill Gravell said.
Information from a June 29 Commissioners Court meeting states officers will receive a 5% increase in pay plus an additional 1%-5% increase for all tenured staff for an average increase of approximately 7%.
New also compared the Williamson County law enforcement and corrections pay scale with Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Leander, Liberty Hill and Hutto. The starting pay of a Williamson County sergeant is $67,997, while in Round Rock it is $82,768.
"We were waiting for the cities to draw their plan [with new pay rates], and that is why we come to you now and not last month," New said. "We need to have a comprehensive overview, a comprehensive look at our scale. This needs to be overall each rank, each step, each structure. We have been the lowest compensated in the region for our size and workload.”
“When I met the sheriff a few weeks ago, he proposed a budget of $761,000, and now you are proposing a budget of over $2 million,” Gravell said. “We are far apart.”
“We are less than 30 days out. You are proposing a new chart but have not given time to our staff,” Commissioner Precinct 4 Russ Boles said. “We just can't move quick enough because you did not tell our staff so they could prepare for it.”
“Our responsibility is the entire picture,” Gravell said. “We have to look at the whole bandwidth.”
Since this discussion was not an action item on the agenda, the court decided to roll it forward to allow an opportunity to better understand it and involve the human resources department.