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Sheriff’s Office Wants $900K To Boost Employee Pay

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The Alachua County Sheriff's Office came before the board to request additional funds at the county commission meeting Tuesday. A motion to allocate $500,000 in capital outlay was passed 4-1.
The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in 2014. The sheriff’s office requested $900,000 from commissioners Tuesday to boost employee pay. (File/WUFT News)

Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said Thursday he thinks the sheriff’s office’s request for $900,000 for what it says are underpaid employees is an understandable request.

“I don’t have a problem with trying to achieve some goal,” he said. “I don’t think we can do the whole thing in one year, but maybe we can work it out in two to four years to get [the sheriff’s office] to a higher level.”

But at Tuesday’s commission meeting, sheriff’s office Human Resources Director Ivelisse Muñoz requested that the money come by November.

Muñoz told commissioners that the office is in the 50th percentile in its pay structure compared to peer sheriff’s offices, though she didn’t clarify whether the comparison was local, state or national.

She suggested that the lack of raises might be causing employees to leave and that the $900,000 — for pay raises and boosted benefits — could help fix the problem.

“Nearly 40 percent of employees at the sheriff’s office are paid below the market,” said Muñoz, who centered her discussion on jail employees.

Muñoz presented data that showed a 72 percent turnover increase of the corrections officers at the jail between 2014 and 2015.

“If there is funding available, it would help,” she said. “We can’t pull [from] anywhere else or remove any positions.”

At the meeting, County Commissioner Mike Byerly asked for the 2015 exit surveys from jail employees to see why people left or if they were fired. Some might have left because of stress rather than compensation issues, he said.

Byerly asked the sheriff’s office to compare the turnover rates to other county sheriff’s offices.

“If you see similar turnover rates and different pay,” he said, “the problem might not be pay.”

About Kristina McDonald

Kristina is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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