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Sheriff helps even out raise discrepancy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford is giving deputies a $1,000 across-the-board pay raise to help make up for a disparity in raises passed out by the county last month.

Kanawha County commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores approved $330,000 last month for the county's elected officials to give raises to their lowest-paid employees. Carper originally wanted to give each department $51,500, but Hardy made a counter-proposal based on percentages.

Some elected officials got more than $51,500 for raises and some got less, but the raise package still hurt the larger offices and was more help to smaller offices. Employees of smaller departments, like the circuit clerk's office, with about 40 employees, got potentially bigger raises than employees of large departments like the sheriff's office, which employs about 200.

Rutherford said he used the $57,000 county commissioners approved last month to give raises to his lowest-paid workers, some of whom were making about $21,000 a year. He said no sheriff's department employees will now make less than $26,000.

But Rutherford said he still wanted to do something to help the rest of his deputies. He said he decided to take $95,000 from the sheriff's department pistol permit fund to give each deputy a $1,000 raise.

"This is a one-time shot," Rutherford said. "But we feel it's very important to give the deputies compensation for the jobs they do. They're the ones who are out at 3 in the morning and putting their lives on the line for the public."

Money in the pistol permit fund comes from fees county residents pay for concealed weapons permits. The sheriff's department has generally used the money for equipment, but Rutherford said most counties end up tapping into the fund for salaries.

Rutherford said there was about $300,000 in the pistol fund.

Rutherford will talk about the raise package at a regular county commission meeting on Thursday.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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