Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Association asks court for requests 25 percent salary raise adjustment
When seeking employment as a deputy with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, a candidate must successfully complete two job interviews: one for the sheriff’s office and another for the second job he or she will need to survive financially.
That stunning reality was conveyed to Johnson County commissioners and a packed courtroom Monday by JCSO Det. James Novian during a workshop session to address compensation for sheriff’s office employees for the upcoming budget year.
“Our deputies are severely underpaid and are forced to live on welfare in order to make ends meet,” said Novian, who serves as president of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Association.
The starting salary for a JCSO deputy is $37,000, Novian said.
JCSA requested a 25 percent pay increase for the new budget year starting Oct. 1.
“It’s not a raise, it’s an adjustment to get us to where we should be,” Novian said.
A voluntary survey by the JCSA to determine how many sheriff’s office employees were working a second job or receiving public assistance revealed that 87 percent of the deputies work a second job and a surprising 48 percent receive public assistance, Novian said.
“This includes food stamps, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), school lunches and WIC (Women, Infants and Children federal supplemental nutrition program),” Novian said. “We have deputies taking clothing donations and requesting assistance paying their utility bills.”
According to a PowerPoint presentation by Novian, six JCSO deputies or dispatchers are receiving food stamps, 10 receive child care assistance, seven accept housing assistance, six accept clothing donations, eight receive assistance with utilities, 12 receive government subsidized or indigent healthcare and 15 have children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches.
In addition to the 20 JCSO employees who work a second job, another 45 must work part-time jobs, 23 exchange security or other work to offset apartment rent, and 18 are unable to afford housing and must live with friends or family, according to Novian.
Compared to the $37K starting salary for a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy, the starting officer pay at the Burleson Police Department is $53,000, Cleburne PD is $50,148, Venus PD is $43,180, and Grandview PD is $40,010, Novian said.
“Bottom line, our deputies are severely underpaid,” Novian said. “Johnson County is financially stable with $21 million in the rainy day fund. Beyond that, the county is growing and new businesses are opening every month,” he said.
Novian reminded commissioners that a 2015 salary survey by an independent agency indicated Johnson County employees were under paid.
“In Commissioners Court it was stated this would be corrected in a three-year cycle,” Novian said. “In 2016, the court gave $1,800 to each person. In 2017, it gave everyone $1,000, and in 2018 it was zero.
“I encourage you to make a substantial salary adjustment for the sheriff’s office and all Johnson County employees. I encourage you to take this information into consideration and show your dedication and appreciation for the work your sheriff’s office does.”
Most county department heads and elected officials have submitted preliminary budget proposals, County Judge Roger Harmon said.
“We won’t receive the certified numbers from the Johnson County Appraisal District until July 25,” Harmon said. “After that, we’ll tackle the budget between Aug. 6-10 and need to adopt it by Sept. 24.”
In the announcements and presentations portion of the agenda, 21 employees received pins recognizing 25 years of service to the county, with Elizabeth Shastid of the adult probation department honored for 25 years of service.
Linda Ownbey of the public works department and Charlotte Warren of the tax office were recognized for 20 years of service.
Richard Hogan of the sheriff’s office received a pin for 15 years of service. He also received a cowboy hat from Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Woolley.
Employees recognized for 10 years of service were: Jacque Johnson and Michelle Miracle of the public works department; Amy Pardo of the county attorney’s office; Jessica Cason of the Texas Department of Public Safety; Carly Casey of the county clerk’s office; Brent Huffman of the district attorney’s office; Allan Messman of Precinct 1; and Michael Cipriano, Lindsey Lee and Brandi Nelson of the adult probation office.
Five-year pins were presented to: LaQuainta Wright of adult probation; Gina Harris of the district clerk’s office; Ellen Peveto of juvenile services; Cynthia Tanner of the audit department; and Dana Allison, Terri Byrn and Patricia Evans of the sheriff’s office.
Readers can watch court proceedings online at www.johnsoncountytx.org. Navigate the tool bar to “Commissioners Court” and scroll down to “Meeting Video.” Click on “Commissioners Court.”
The next scheduled meeting of the Johnson County Commissioners Court will be at 9 a.m. Monday, July 23, in Room 201 of the Johnson County Courthouse in Cleburne.