Proposed budget includes raises for deputies, correctional officers

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Pay raises may be in store for Darlington County Sheriff’s Office deputies, correctional officers, EMS workers and CDL drivers, if County Council approves the budget proposed at an April 3 work session.

The fiscal 2019/20 budget offered by county administrator Charles Stewart includes a 6.5 percent pay increase for DCSO law enforcement certified hourly positions currently below the rank of lieutenant.

Correctional officers working at the W. Glenn Campbell Detention Center and Darlington County Prison Camp in certified hourly positions currently rank of sergeant or below would receive a 4 percent raise.

Full time EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) assigned to Darlington County Emergency Medical Services ambulances in certified hourly positions would also receive a 4 percent pay hike, as would licensed CDL drivers with Environmental Services and Roads & Bridges.

Stewart said he proposed these pay increases in hopes of improving employee retention, since deputies, guards, EMTs and CDL drivers frequently leave Darlington County for higher pay with neighboring counties.

“These positions are always advertised. Anytime you pull up our website, you’re going to find we’re looking for these people because they come and go,” said Stewart. “One of the big reasons they come and go is that the pay is low for the jobs they do.”

All other county employees would receive a 2 percent across the board employee cost of living adjustment (COLA).

The proposed General Fund budget stands at $23.5 million, including a 0.5 mill increase. Across all budgets, the total proposed millage increase is 0.81 mills, which is only 35 percent of the allowable maximum of 2.2775 mills. On the average home assessed at $100,000, this would translate to an additional $3.24 in property tax.

Other budgets included in this proposed package include the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office ($5,693,326), W. Glenn Campbell Correctional Center ($3,849,347), Prison Farm ($785,729), Environmental Services ($2,833,500), Fire District ($2,368,850), Emergency Services ($4,587,031), Roads and Bridges ($1,730,000), Library Fund ($1,474,951), Parks and Recreation ($568,383), Economic Development ($222,078), Animal Shelter / Darlington County Humane Society ($173,862), and Historical Commission ($143,122).

Per a proposal discussed at this work session, the budgets for the 4th Circuit Solicitor’s Office ($165,200) and Public Defender ($140,000) would each receive an additional $40,000.

Stewart noted that the county’s unassigned fund balance continues to grow in a slow and steady fashion, up from $7,785,711 in the current year to $8,247,738 in fiscal year 2020.

Annual increases in mandatory employer retirement contributions will tack on an extra $140,000, raising the total to $409,000 for the year.

Following a review of these numbers, council members offered preliminary support for Stewart’s budget, which will come up for second reading and a public hearing at County Council’s May 6 regular meeting.

The budget must pass three readings before the end of June, and would go into effect on July 1.

Author: Rachel Howell

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