Hamilton County Sheriff's Office appeals pay ruling

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office appeals pay ruling

March 29th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Workers begin the renovations to the facade of the west annex building of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office that officials hope will make the facility look more like an office building than a warehouse.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is appealing a decision that would force it to spend an extra $80,000 on pay for its sergeants.

In January, the Sheriff's Civil Service Advisory Board - a group of three civilians appointed to hear grievances on personnel and policy matters for the sheriff's office - said the office needed to equalize the pay among its sergeants. The salaries range between $43,867 and $49,840 among the office's 16 sergeants, according to 2009 salary data.

Dee Hobbs, an attorney for the sheriff's office, said the appeal was filed March 24 in Chancery Court, which is expected to issue a ruling within 90 days.

The office is in a difficult position to equalize pay among the sergeants, Hobbs said. Doing so could lead to other employees' demanding that their pay be equalized, too, he said, but doing so for all positions in the department would cost about $1 million.

"There isn't money in the budget to pay it," Hobbs said. "If you do equalize pay, you have ruined merit increases."

The Civil Service Board reviewed the salaries after the disparity in pay was brought to its attention by some of the sergeants, Hobbs said.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.