Deputies Get Pay Hikes

Cass county deputies and sheriff's employees now have a contract. The fiscal year for Cass County began July 1st. The members of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #20 had been working under the terms of the previous year’s contract.

At the December 20th meeting, the Cass County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to “approve a 2% increase to those sheriff’s office employees that are currently in ‘step 7’ on the sheriff’s office pay scale,” says the meeting minutes.

The FOP then turned down that offer.

‘Step 7’ is the top step on the scale, explains Shannon Fries, a sheriff’s deputy and the outgoing president of the FOP. So only those in that top step would have received the 2% increase, the same increase that other county employees received in the 2011-12 budget.

The county administration’s reasoning in the December 20th motion was that those under ‘step 7’ would get a salary increase if they successfully passed the annual performance evaluation and moved up a step. The pay rate for steps 1 through 6 would have remained the same as in the ’10-11 contract under the motion passed December 20th.

Fries says the FOP saw that “as not very fair” when other positions in county government were given a 2% increase.

Fries, Sheriff Bill Brueggemann and the county board talked about the contract in closed session this week. Fries describes the talks throughout the negotiation process as easy-going and professional.

After emerging from closed session, the board overrode the December 20th action by approving a 2% salary increase to all steps of the sheriff’s department pay scale, says Cass County Clerk Barb Wohlers.

The contract will be retroactive to July 1st.

If the December 20th action would have stood, Brueggemann says the budget impact would have been the step-and-grade increase, about $27,000, plus the 2% for the 40-or-so employees at step 7, about $30,000.

Now, with this week’s county board action, the step-and-grade still applies and the 2% for all steps amounts to about $60,000, he says.

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