Schiff (file): “That is not
MONTICELLO – Sullivan County’ deputy sheriffs have been without a contract for over six years, including those working under trying conditions in the soon-to-be-replaced century old jail, labeled a “dungeon” several years ago by a state corrections official.
Sheriff Michael Schiff told legislators during their monthly meeting on Thursday that the jail deputies have gone from about a $1,500 difference with the road patrol a decade ago, to about a $20,000 difference now.
“That is not acceptable,” Schiff said. “We have to do something with that. These are valued employees and probably have the most difficult job in the county. Every day they deal with uncomfortable and usually many times, disgusting issues in the jail.”
Brian Harrel, a deputy sheriff in the jail for 30 years also noted the
salary issue, saying it takes a jail deputy 13 years to make what a new
road patrol deputy starts out.
“I’m asking for you and your fellow legislators to support us and authorize the proper county officials to find the funding so that we can end this battle to make it possible for us to get paid as the professionals that we are,” Harrel said. “We realize that the disparity did not start with you but we’re asking for this to end with you.”
He said he respected the work County Manager Joshua Potosek put into a proposed 2019 budget that lowers the tax levy. “At what cost?” asked Harrel.
A very cautious response came from legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez,
a veteran of the sheriff department.
“Your words are not going to fall on deaf ears. We’re very
conscious of that. And that part, I told you I would give you my
word on it and fight as much as I can. And each one of us up here
sitting, it’s what has been bothering us. How do we do this
and how do we get it. You might not believe it but sometimes I lose
sleep over it thinking about it because I was in your shoes for many years.”
Alvarez said ongoing negotiations will keep him from saying more at this point.
The legislature is reviewing the proposed budget for next year.