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Richmond County sheriff asks commission to fund department pay raise

(WRDW)
Published: Aug. 8, 2017 at 8:32 PM EDT
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Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree says his deputies are not getting paid enough. Now he's turning to the commission to fix the pay gap.

"No one does the jobs that we do. While all jobs are important, ours is crucial," Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

That's why Sheriff Roundtree says it's crucial his deputies get paid more.

"It's not about competing with any other agency or the state, it's about compensating them for the work that they do," he said.

Comparing the volume of work Richmond County deputies have is pretty eye opening. Sheriff Roundtree said they get 372,000 calls a year, that's at least six times the amount of calls as neighboring counties.

"You can see some of the agencies answered 5,100 calls last year and they're making more than my deputies. And I don't think that's fair," the sheriff said.

It's more work, dangerous work, for a lot less pay. Richmond County deputies start at 34,000 dollars, Columbia County gets 39,000. The sheriff says it's not hard to recruit the deputies to join, it's hard to retain them.

"For them to go to another agency for an additional three or four thousand dollars, now they're serving another community instead of the one that got them involved in law enforcement," he said.

His plan would help keep deputies with 5 to 8% raises, especially for deputies with the department for 5 and 10 years. It would cost more than 2.7 million dollars.

But Sheriff Roundtree says he does not hire deputies who want to join for the money. He says they give deputies a lot more opportunity than other law enforcement agencies because they have so many different areas for them to work in and train. He says it's also about what his deputies do.

"We had to plan for and execute a funeral for one of our deputies this year, I don't think any other department has had to do that," Sheriff Roundtree said.

City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson says she can't see a way to make it happen without a tax increase. That has commissioners questioning what to do.

"No one likes a tax increase. I don't like the price of milk to go up at the grocery store but I still buy milk." he said.

So if it takes raising taxes to make it happen, this sheriff stands by it and he hopes the community will too.

The sheriff says this is overdue, but they're asking now because Governor Deal increased the pay for all state law enforcement. Sheriff Roundtree would not get a raise under this plan.

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