Sheriff Keith Sexton told Washington County commissioners Thursday he will work to fill all vacancies in his office in the new fiscal year.
“We don’t have any big items,” Sexton said of his budget request for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. “I will not add any new positions.”
Instead, Sexton said he’s focused on filling 22 open positions in the sheriff’s office. He also said he will demand additional overtime pay to reduce the hours worked by employees in his budget.
“Like everyone else, we’re understaffed, overworked and underpaid,” said Sexton, who is calling for a “general” 5% pay rise for his staff.
He said inflation has also increased food costs at the county detention center and fuel costs for his squad cars.
Washington County Road Superintendent John B. Deakins Jr. said he has already moved $460,000 within his current budget to help resolve payroll issues in the county’s Highway Department.
He told commissioners he made salary adjustments in the new budget to remain competitive with the private sector. Deakins said he has 12 open positions and noted that hiring qualified people for those positions has been his “biggest headache”.
The road master also said he expects its fuel costs to increase in the new fiscal year.
Richard Griffin, director of the Washington County Public Library, told commissioners he hoped to address pay inequality among his staff in the new fiscal year. Griffin said he now starts his employees at $10 an hour, which ranks Washington County salaries “near bottom” among libraries in the region.
He said many neighboring libraries are raising their starting rates to $12 an hour.
Commission chairman Greg Matherly, in his role as director of Washington County’s Emergency Communications District, said the 911 Board is asking that all of its dispatchers be brought up to $15 an hour.
“Our main focus this year is to keep our employees and hire new ones,” he said.