Deputies to receive pay raises early

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Deputies in Cape Girardeau County who were told they would have to wait until July for raises funded by a new sales tax will get their money three months early.

Thursday morning, the Cape Girardeau County Commission voted unanimously to add the raises, more than $500 a month for deputies on road patrols, to paychecks that will be issued April 28. The commission will revisit the issue in early April when they consider whether to issue checks for the raise amounts to cover the period from Jan. 1, when the tax took effect.

The half-cent sales tax is split between roads and the sheriff's department. The county received $441,723 in February and March, which is far more than commissioners anticipated they would have by now. Of that amount, $72,063 is earmarked for the sheriff's department.

When this year's county budget was written, deputies were promised they would receive the raises regularly beginning in July and that they would receive a check to cover the amount of the raises from Jan. 1 to July 1.

Sheriff John Jordan asked the commission to start the raises early and to make the back pay payments early as well. Starting the raises early and promising to consider issuing back pay checks early as well will boost morale, he said.

"I am going to be happy with my folks getting a raise in April," Jordan said.

Commissioner Jay Purcell pushed for approving both the early starting date and back pay issues right away, noting that the county could borrow money from other unspent portions of the sales tax and then repay the funds from revenue in future months.

"There is a great amount of latitude in the sheriff's budget," Purcell said. "We are not advocating to spend any more money, but the commitment is made."

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