Fiscal Court, sheriff talk pay raises; judge to check pay at other police agencies

Magistrates Gary Coulter, left and Keith Metcalfe, review budget numbers at the start of Tuesday’s special-called Nelson Fiscal Court meeting.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 (Corrected 7:33 p.m.) Nelson Fiscal Court and the county’s department heads met at a special fiscal court meeting Tuesday to discuss Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa’s request for higher pay for deputies.

Nelson Fiscal Court subsidizes the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office to the tune of $2.7 million each year, most of which is for salary and benefits for the sheriff’s office road patrol deputies.

At last week’s Nelson Fiscal Court meeting, Pineiroa asked the court again for pay raises above and beyond the 7 percent the court approved for the 2022-23 budget. At that time, he said his unanswered previous requests for pay increases left him feeling like he was “beating a dead horse.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Pineiroa distributed a handout showing the new pay scale for Bardstown Police officers effective July 1st. That pay scale shows that an officer with 10 years of service will be paid $4.43 per hour more than a comparable sheriff’s office employee.

Emergency Services Director Joe Prewitt, left, reviews data with Judge Executive Dean Watts.

Pineiroa told the court that a $3 per hour raise would allow him to keep deputy pay competitive with the city police department. A $3 hourly raise would cost fiscal court $167,606 for the increase in wages and benefits, according to Pineiroa’s calculations.

However, Pineiroa’s figures did not match those provided by County Treasurer Rhonda Fenwick, whose estimates on giving deputies a $2 per hour pay raise were higher than the sheriff’s estimate.

A $2 per hour increase for the entire sheriff’s office would cost an additional $200,000, not including overtime costs, which would push that figure higher.

Watts warned the magistrates against trying to extract funds from the existing budget to cover those expenses. Doing so would likely eave the county without sufficient reserves to cover unexpected capital expenditures and emergencies, he said.

“We have to have a little reserve to operate on,” he told the magistrates.

Pineiroa said he was confident there was sufficient money in the existing budget to cover the cost of the sheriff’s office pay raises.

Watts said one way to fund pay raises for deputies would be to increase the county’s 911 fee sufficiently so that neither the city nor the county have to subsidize its operation. This would free up funds that could go for raises, Watts said.

Several department heads at that meeting privately expressed concerns about the fairness of giving one group of county employees an additional pay raise on top of fiscal court’s already approved 7 percent across-the-board increase, and possible backlash from within their own departments.

Watts said he recognized that the county pay scale was lacking when looking at the pay for officers with 10 or more years of experience. He told the court that he plans to do an officer-by-officer comparison of wages and bring that information back to a future fiscal court meeting.

The court took no action, though Watts said he will research other agency’s pay and report back at an upcoming fiscal court meeting.

SHERIFF IS GUEST ON “BRADFORD & BROOKS.” Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa will be the studio guest Wednesday morning from 11 to noon on WBRT’s “Bradford & Brooks” radio show to discuss the deputy pay issue from the perspective as sheriff.

“Bradford & Brooks” is live on WBRT AM 1320, FM 97.1 and streaming live, www.WBRTCountry.com, and live on Bardstown Cable Channel 19 BRTV.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed