05/22/2010: "LETTERS ON REDUCTION OF SHERIFF'S PAY"
To the Editor:
I was disheartened to read the article that the SJC Citizen Salary Commission reduced the Sheriff’s salary.
Basing the salary on counties comparable in population and size does not take into account the island make-up of our county and the complexity of situations that it causes.
I remember past discussions about the Sheriff making less than the people he supervises. That is why the salary was increased and the caveat of making sure the Sheriff was a percentage over the rest of his employees was installed. With cost of living increases and other benefits and overtime for the Deputies and Detectives, it was very easy for the Sheriff to earn less, even with the added duties of running the department and its administrative needs, budgeting, etc. I for one do not want a Sheriff that only sits in his office and does administrative duties.
How does this reduced salary compare to the non-elected department heads? Seems to me some of them make a nice salary and don’t need to carry a gun for dangerous situations. (Although, at times now that I think back, maybe some of them should have!)
(Mrs. Hamel was for a number of years the Clerk to the County Council)
To the Editor:
This is ridiculous. [Related Story]
Sergeants not only get only overtime pay, both on call pay, educational incentive and other benefits that a salaried Sheriff would not. In essence the Sheriff would certainly make less money that a sergeant with a High School diploma and a lot less training and liability, but would be working 100’s of hours w/o pay just to keep the department going. Bill runs the boat at night and in bad weather but works holidays and any emergency at no pay. The sergeants get time and ½- for the same thing.
You get what you pay for. One of the reasons I decided not to run was because of the vast amount of uncompensated time involved in running a department of this size and the personal liability the Sheriff bears. It is a tough, complicated job and things like this just show how little it is appreciated.
Not to be too negative but it doesn’t sound like the citizen’s salary commission has any real idea of what the Sheriff does or how complicated and time consuming the position is. You get what you pay for and quality candidates don’t apply for positions that pay less that the people who they train and supervise.
Good luck with that.
San Juan Island
(Jon Zerby is the San Juan County Undersheriff)