Sheriff’s office adopts new pay scale

Performance-based, tiered plan underway

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The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has implemented a new performance-based, tiered pay scale that is helping bringing its commissioned staff back to regional industry standards.

The result, they hope, will help keep more highly trained officers in Douglas County.

“We don’t want Douglas County to be a training ground,” said Sgt. Ron Hanavan, sheriff’s office spokesman. “We want this to be a place for people to get on a career path and choose to stay.”

The new pay plan was launched Oct. 21 and is being phased in over the next two years, affecting a commissioned staff of 283 deputies, sergeants and lieutenants. Some officers will see as much as a 9 percent raise over that two-year time frame. 

“We got them halfway there this year and we are going to take them the rest of the way next year,” said Chief Holly Nicholson-Kluth. “Once they are in a tier plan they know that unless they are not performing they will move between 2 and 5 percent each year, depending on which tier they are moving into.”

The pay scale consists of 10 tiers at each rank, with the deputy pay scale ranging from $52,000 up to $75,000. The pay ranges of all three ranks were also adjusted on the new scale so there is a 3 percent gap between each, preventing someone from making more money than their superior. The nine-member command staff was not included in the pay plan and will receive increases in accordance with other county employees.

According to Nicholson-Kluth, the department first developed the new pay structure in 2009, but salaries were frozen in 2010 and nobody has seen more than a minimal raise since, which just made “compression” worse. As the industry minimum continued to rise and department pay raises weren’t keeping up, new employees were being paid more than those who had been with the department for four or five years.

“When we reinitiated the tier plan we looked at about 30 law enforcement agencies across the Front Ranch, both sheriff and police agencies,” she said. “We will re-examine the market every one to two years, and if the market moves, the tier’s minimum and maximum would move with it as well.”

“For us this creates a really fair pay structure that is equal to what most other agencies are doing,” added Chief Tim Moore. “It also lets employees that are doing a good job know that they are appreciated and are paid fairly, and helps us keep from losing good, qualified people that have worked and lived here for five, 10 or 15 years because other agencies are paying better and they are tempted to leave.”