Harford County sheriff wants higher raises for employees

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 06:19:44-05

Harford County's sheriff says his employees need more money. 

After years with no pay increase, he says he's losing some deputies to different departments in the state. 

Sheriff Jeff Gahler says this is all stemming from the recession, which was before either Gahler or county executive Barry Glassman were in office. 

Both say the challenge is making up for lost years with no salary increases and keeping personnel. 

"The last two academy classes, we've not been able to identify a sufficient number of candidates to begin a process to fill an academy class," Gahler said, referring to the troubles he said he's having because of competitive salaries in other departments. 

It's a tough problem Gahler says is unheard of, and now he's looking to get his employees higher raises. 

"When you're planning your life out and then you find you're no better off than you were eight years earlier, it certainly puts an issue of morale -- we're having a great morale issue because of the compression -- due to the morale, we're seeing people leaving for greener pastures," he said. 

When the sheriff took office in 2014, employees in the sheriff's office hadn't seen a raise in six years -- a crack in the department that Gahler says is forcing some of the office's personnel to other jobs. 

"In two years, we're beginning to catch ground. There's no way the county can afford to catch up six years in one year," Glassman said. 
The two year county exec says the county is finally starting to pick up momentum, but the sheriff's office isn't the only department in the county missing out on money. 
In the last two years, however, employees with the sheriff's office saw an increase.
"We're going to try to address salaries across the board at that rate of growth. So I think you'll see us make incremental progress," Glassman said. 
The sheriff's office participated in a study from Management Advisory Group Intl., Inc, backing up Sheriff Gahler's claims of the department's salaries not being competitive with surrounding law enforcement. 
"Overall, the market survey indicated that the HCSO is somewhat behind the overall market. The most compelling adjustments need to be made due to internal inequities and relationships. Most surveyed positions are behind the surveyed agencies, some surveyed positions are on target with the market, and only a couple of the surveyed positions are ahead of the market. So, the HCSO relationship to other jurisdictions varies depending on the positions being discussed. Overall, dollar wise, HCSO is slightly behind. HCSO ranges rank lower than some and slightly higher than others, and are recommended at the average of the market findings. That is also true for the benefits being offered, in which so many variables are evaluated that one cannot concluded a "ranking" relative to the market. Again, the impact is in the actual salaries being paid since incumbent salaries appear to have been limited more than in the surveyed market."
It's a challenge both Glassman and Gahler are trying to find solutions to and want to find one fast. 
"We need to start to turn the tide and at least be able to retain and try to attract more candidates, more qualified candidates, to the office," Gahler said. 
Glassman says he's waiting on the state to give the county a budget estimate. 
From there, he and county leaders will make a decision on what happens next as far as salary increase this spring.

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