QUEENSBURY - Angered by the recent news coverage of a vote approving a contract that increases Warren County Sheriff Officer's salaries, county supervisors responded this week that the contract they negotiated with the Police Benevolence Association is in the best interests of taxpayers.
Twelve supervisors voted to pass the contract, which will increase the salaries of first-year deputies from $29,500 to $31,565 annually.
In the days following the Nov. 21 vote, commentaries and editorials in the area daily newspaper, The Post-Star, blasted the supervisors who supported the new contract, even suggesting that they should be voted out of office due to this contract vote.
The contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, and will cost the county approximately $220,000 officials said - but will pay itself off over time, as the county expects to gain nearly $40,000 per year in concessions that are also included in the deal.
The supervisors said this week the pay raise was necessary to both stay competitive with other police agencies, and to cap training costs, as many officers leave relatively soon after their training to receive higher pay elsewhere.
The county invests many thousands of dollars in the six-month training of each new officer prior to their deployment, the county leaders said.
Over the last several years, many officers have left the sheriff's department for more lucrative employment with the state Police and other law enforcement agencies. Officials said that unless a pay raise was adopted the department was at risk of becoming simply a training facility for other law enforcement agencies. Starting salary for a state Police officer is about $65,000 annually.
York said that currently seven county patrol officers had taken the state police entrance exam, passed it, and are now eligible for the next state Police academy session.
County officials also said the prior pay scale did not properly reflect the complexity of the duties and the talent needed to fulfill job requirements.