St. Francois County is giving a pay raise to the sheriff’s deputies at the beginning of the year.
During the county commission meeting Tuesday morning at the courthouse annex, the commission approved the pay raise proposal that had been proposed after multiple meetings between representatives of the deputies and a citizen’s committee. The proposal then went to the auditor’s office where a compromise was reached to fit the cost into the annual budget.
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher proposed to use the auditor’s suggested compromise position.
“Basically, it gives 8.4% to the starting pay increase,” he said. “That percentage drops to 4-5% as you go up the scale. This will add $251,140 to our annual budget. The pay scale will begin on Jan. 1.”
County Clerk Kevin Engler stated that the day before, they received the bid for liability coverage for the sheriff’s department with an increase that would also have to be budgeted.
“There was an $80,000 plus rise for next year that has to be budgeted, [because of] some of these situations that we’ve been resolving.”
The county announced the awarding of $1,552,362.95 as Phase III of Cares Act Funding.
The recipients are as follows: CASA of the Parkland, $10,351.21; Central R3 Schools, $416,308.48; city of Desloge, $234,107.61; city of Farmington, $18,082.66; Desloge Chamber of Commerce, $16,222.35; Farmington R7 Schools, $295,931.16; Memorial United Methodist Church, $7,808.09; North St. Francois County Schools, $299,600.00; Wolf Creek Fire Protection Association, $34,443.00; Mineral Area College, $92,851.92; SFC Joint Communication Center, $61,496.02; city of Farmington, $65,000.00; Visions of Hope, $160.45.
Gallaher stressed that the awarded funds will not be released until the expense is incurred and documentation is provided to the county.
The county is reserving $1,272,610.52 for its own upgrades and expenditures. The remaining funds available has a total of $188,659.32.
Sheriff Dan Bullock updated the county on a grant he received for purchasing bulletproof vests for the deputies.
“The federal bullet proof vest grant that we apply for — not every year — as it runs out, they put money in the account to pay for half of all new vests that we have to buy,” he said. “We pay the whole thing up front, then are reimbursed for half of each vest.”
Gallaher asked how much a vest cost.
Bullock answered, “It’s in the $600-700 range a piece. You can buy cheaper ones, it’s like going down to Bob’s Vest Shop, or getting a good one. We have applied and received the grant, and we found out last week that they had already deposited the money in the treasurer’s office. We wanted to get it on record that it had come through the commission. It will save the county some money, because we are going to have to purchase around $10,000 worth of vests. Officers have left, and often times the vests don’t fit the new guy. We try to hire people that fit in the vests, but that doesn’t work very well."
Gallaher asked what the life of a bulletproof vest was.
Bullock said that five years is the recommendation.
“We have done some tests on them and we found out that they still work years after that. Body sweat and wearing them in the elements does break them down. A few years ago, we had some we wore for 20 years, we took them out to the range and tested them. They still stopped a bullet.”
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at email@example.com
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