orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Government

September 22, 2013

OCSO salary difference not new issue

ORANGE — Orange County Commissioners Court will set the elected officials salaries, expenses and allowances on Monday.

Sheriff Keith Merritt, serving in his second term as sheriff but his fifth term as an elected official, has requested to have his salary adjusted to fourth term sheriff pay compensation according to a matrix the Orange County Commissioners approved in 2008.

“The first year as sheriff, everyone else got a raise except me,” Merritt said. “I was told it fell through the cracks and they would correct it the next year.”

All elected officials raises were frozen the following year for the 2012/2013 fiscal budget.

“This year I am being told they [Commissioners Court] does not want to give just one person a raise because it is not fair,” Merritt said. “I understand that. But what about the year everyone else got a raise and mine fell through the cracks?”

All elected officials salaries are proposed to remain frozen for the 2013/2014 fiscal year. Elected officials were told grievances could be filed and brought before the Salary Grievance Committee.

According to wages for the Orange County Sheriff Office wages and salary scale, the chief deputy makes $102,124.80 a year not including longevity pay or other compensations. The Chief Deputy Hodgkinson has worked at the OCSO since 2002. Hodgkinson has worked his way through the ranks and became the chief deputy in 2011.

The salary difference is not a recent issue but can be traced as far back as when Mike White, the sheriff prior to Merritt, was in office.

Compensation for certificates is a common practice in law enforcement agencies.

The City of Orange Police Department also has educational incentive pay (EIP) or certificate pay (CP). However, the officer must select which type to receive as both cannot be received simultaneously. The highest certificate pay for the Orange Police Department is $2400 annually or $200 per month for an employee with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Police or Social Science from an accredited institution and  Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education Master’s Certification. A previous article published in The Orange Leader showed the Master Peace Officer Certificate compensation at the OCSO at $2700, up 35% since the previous collective bargaining agreement for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for 2006-2009.

The Chief of Police for the City of Orange does not receive EIP or CP since he is not considered union.

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