Travis County Commission approves pay hike for law enforcement officers.

Travis County, Texas – In an effort to address the shortage of correctional and courthouse security vacancies, Travis County Commissioner Court has approved a significant increase in salary for deputies and corrections officers.

The new salary hike, which includes a $5,000 increase in entry-level positions, and a percentage increase for higher-level positions, is aimed at making the job more financially appealing, particularly for those who do not currently reside within Travis County. According to Assistant Budget Director, Alex Braden, the high cost of living and competition from neighboring counties like Williamson and Hays, which offer better remuneration, have hindered recruiting efforts.

“The cost of living is higher, people are living farther out from Travis County, and so to encourage people to sign up to work in Travis County, especially if they don’t currently live in Travis County, we’ve got to make it financially much more appealing to convince those people to come work for us,” said Braden.

The hike, which takes effect on June 1, 2021, will see corrections officers’ salaries increase from $50,000 to $55,000, while law enforcement deputies’ salaries will jump from $63,000 to $68,000, effective October 1, 2021. The proposal also includes a three percent increase for each step on the pay scale.

Travis County Sheriff’s Office has almost 280 correctional and courthouse security vacancies. Last year, the minimum for corrections was increased by 6.7 percent, while the minimum for law enforcement deputies was increased by 14.1 percent; however, these increments were not enough to fill all positions, said a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re not hiring more than we’re losing, but it’s not enough to fill all the positions, especially having to compete with surrounding counties,” he said.

To encourage more applicants and jump-start recruiting efforts, the Commissioner Court also approved a request from the Sheriff’s Office to use $483,000 of vacancy savings to continue a contract with a company responsible for filling vacant positions.

“This is very unique. We’ve never had discussions about POPs positions this early in the budget process; we’ve never implemented a mid-year change,” said Planning and Budget Director Travis Gatlin.

The cost of the new salaries is about $2.26 million this year and $11.57 million to be included in the fiscal year 2024 budget.

Travis County Commissioner Precinct 2, Brigid Shea, said that the increase in salary is an essential step to curb the excessive overtime and high employee turnover.

“We’ve got a completely unsustainable situation now with so many staff members working excessive overtime, and we’re losing staff because people are just like I can’t do this anymore, so hopefully this will make a difference and be a demonstration that we value these employees and recognize that we need to raise their pay,” said Shea.

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