Watts press conference defends fiscal court’s record on sheriff’s office pay

Judge Executive Dean Watts discusses fiscal court-provided salaries for road patrol deputies.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, July 28, 2022 — With just four days left before he leaves office, Judge Executive Dean Watts held a press conference Thursday afternoon to push back on what he labeled as unfair criticism of Nelson Fiscal Court and the pay the court provides to road patrol deputies.

“While I don’t use social media, I know Fiscal Court is getting bashed simply because people do not have the facts,” Watts began.

Watts began with a history of the sheriff’s office and the county police departments, and how the two were merged by a contract more than 20 years ago.

In that contract, Nelson Fiscal Court agrees to pay the salary and benefits for a certain number of deputies who are responsible for law enforcement duties countywide. Today, the county funds 17 deputy positions.

Of those 17 deputies, 13 came to Nelson County for better pay or better working conditions, Watts explained.

“If 76 percent of our officers are coming here to serve in Nelson County, we must be doing something right,” he said.

Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa has lobbied the court for higher wages for the road patrol deputies so their pay is more competitive with other agencies. The court has not approved specific raises for those deputies, though all county employees did receive a 7 percent increase effective July 1st.

In 1994, when Watts began his first term as judge executive, the deputies had to use their own personal cars for law enforcement duty and were paid mileage. Months later, Fiscal Court agreed to start to providing the sheriff’s office with cars.

While Watts said over the years, the court has provided for the sheriff’s office needs, his review of wages generally is that the department provides competitive pay and benefits — with some exceptions.

“We found at least four deputies’ wages that need attention due to the tenure served in Nelson County,” he said. “I have recommended that the court review their wages the next time raises are given.”

Watts said the data he assembled showed that the pay for the deputies with more than 10 years experience — Watts, Greenwell, Wells and Voil — should be reviewed.

This list of road patrol deputies compares their pay with seven other police agencies. Watts said the data shows the department wages in most cases are competitive. Click to enlarge image.

SALARY COMPARISON. A salary comparison of the county’s deputies compared their pay to seven other agencies: Bardstown PD, Mount Washington PD, Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office, Shepherdsville PD, Shively PD, LMPD and St. Matthews Police.

Deputy Michael Watts, who is paid $33.55 per hour (including incentive pay), earns more than five of the comparison departments with the exception of two: LMPD and St. Matthews.

Deputy Brian Voils, with 17 years of experience, is paid $30.48. He could earn higher wages working for Bardstown, LMPD, and Mount Washington.

Deputy Dennis Wells, with 14 years experience, is paid $27.42 per hour. He could earn higher wages at any of the seven police agencies in the comparison.

Deputy Greenwell, with 11 years experience, is paid $27.30 per hour. He could also earn higher wages at any of the other agencies used in the comparison.

“Their wages are a little out of line compared with the other agencies we reviewed,” Watts said in explaining his recommendation for fiscal court to review their pays.

In closing, Watts restated and he and fiscal court have a proven record of support for the sheriff’s office and law enforcement.


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