For months Newton County Sheriff’s deputies have been asking the Board of Commissioners for a way to keep people from leaving the office and a raise. Monday night, Commissioner J.C. Henderson asked his fellow commissioners to start looking into granting that request.
Henderson, after back-and-forth discussion with commissioners such as Nancy Schulz and John Douglas, made a motion to hold a work session within the next 30 days to discussion the retention of Newton County Sheriff’s Office employees.
“You turn on the TV set and when you look at the news report from Sandy Springs, you’ll see some of our deputies that used to work in Newton County, and no longer work here,” Henderson said. “The reason they’re leaving here is because of benefits and low pay.”
After Henderson requested a work session to discuss raises for deputies, Schulz suggested he add constitutional officers as well.
“I think whatever response we have, we need to take it all in consideration,” Schulz said. “It’s all interrelated. We all need to work together to make sure we have good solutions.”
After constitutional officers were added to the motion, Douglas asked that all employees be added.
“Are we going to tell the rest of our employees that they’re not worthy of a raise around Christmas time,” Douglas asked.
Henderson then made the motion to include all employees. Commissioner Lanier Sims asked that the broader picture of keeping deputies, besides pay, also be looked into.
“I think the issue is some of the needs within the Sheriff’s Department are not all based on payroll,” Sims said. “If we’re going to have a work session, I think that needs to be more about public safety. There are other issues than just payroll.”
More back-and-forth discussion ensued, including how much work went into the current budget, and how long it should take to come up with a reasonable solution and where the money could come from.
“Is it a work session to discuss where the money will come from,” Commissioner Levi Maddox asked. “We all know what that means, a third year of tax increases or dramatic changes to the organization. Is someone going to be bringing those solutions?”
“That’s up to Commissioner Henderson,” Douglas said.
“Mr. Douglas, you said you want to solve the problem for all employees. That’s exactly what I said,” Henderson said. “That’s why we have Mr. Tom Garrett; that’s why we have Chairman Ellis, to bring figures of what we can and can’t do.”
After Schulz questioned the process and saying they may need to appoint a study committee, and Douglass said “I don’t see how it’s possible to bring all of this forward in two weeks,” Henderson then changed the motion to be forming a work session to discuss strictly deputies retention.
The BOC will discuss with Sheriff Ezell Brown when the work session will take place, either before the Nov. 18 or Dec. 2 meetings.