In response to the recent media attention surrounding the negotiations of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Employees Association and the Orange County Commissioners, we feel it is necessary to relay some facts and background information regarding the particulars of the contract. While the contract covers a wide variety of employment issues, wages are the primary area of concern at this point in negotiations.
In an effort to determine a fair wage for the employees, a survey was conducted to determine the average salaries for police officers in the Orange County area. According to the survey, the starting pay for Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies is $3,509.94 a year below the average and the starting pay for a sergeant at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is $11,025.04 below the average. One reason for the disparity in the starting deputy position is that in 2001 the OCSO starting pay for a deputy was $16.11 an hour. In 2003 the starting pay was lowered to $15.34. In 2005, it was raised to $15.77.
We are asking that starting deputies be raised to $16.30, which is only 29 cents more than what it was five years ago. Our proposed salary schedule would raise the wages for OCSO employees to just below the average. Recognizing that there are always budget constraints, we are not asking to be the highest paid, we are just trying to get close to the average.
A secondary issue is the outdated pay scale. The current system, from which all county employees’ wages are derived, is a system that frequently results in subordinate positions receiving pay higher than those in supervisory positions. The intricacies in explaining the system would be agonizing, but nonetheless, it is a significant issue within the county and the Commissioners Court has recognized as a problem. In addressing this issue, as well as the significant disparity between the OCSO and other Orange County law enforcement agencies, there will be an increased cost initially to implement the new pay scale.
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