Sheriff’s office launches plan to address critical staffing needs
Two weeks after initially approaching the Grand County commissioners about addressing critical staffing shortages, the sheriff presented a plan for hiring and retention.
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin came back to the board of county commissioners on Tuesday with a more detailed idea of how he wants to address critical staffing needs in his department. Currently, 22% of positions at the sheriff’s office are vacant.
Based on current hiring trends, the sheriff’s office is projected to see just under $1.1 million in vacancy savings. Schroetlin asked to use about 20% of those savings, equal to $223,000, to become more competitive within the local market and surrounding law enforcement agencies.
The memo from the sheriff’s office allocates $5,000 toward renewed marketing efforts and $138,607 toward increasing starting salaries. That increase in starting salaries includes adjusting current employee pay based on positions and certifications to remain competitive.
Schroetlin added that these raises would be from the lieutenant rank and down, meaning neither he nor the undersheriff would see a pay increase.
In dispatch and at the jail, where the sheriff’s office is seeing the most vacancies, starting wages would move from $19.46 and $20.45 per hour up to $23.71 per hour for both positions.
Additionally, Schroetlin wants to begin implementing shift differentials for hours worked outside the 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. work day for detentions, dispatch and patrol. This additional $2 an hour will total $44,923 of the sheriff’s ask.
The last part of the proposal includes a $5,000 hiring incentive, divided 50/50 with the first half paid out at the completion of training and a second half payable after two years. This would only apply when specific divisions’ staffing dips below 90%.
The budgeted ask assumes that all positions will be filled for the remainder of 2021, which is unlikely, meaning the actual price tag will probably be smaller.
The commissioners agreed to this change, but it brought questions about how other departments might use their own vacancy savings to implement a similar program. Road and bridge has 26% of its positions vacant, public health is missing 19% of employees and emergency medical services is short 12%, according to discussions.
Due to the variation between staffing levels and needs of employees in those specific departments, it was agreed that a case-by-case basis might be the best approach. Department heads facing similar struggles were encouraged to propose plans specific to their own needs and budgets.
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