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Jail staff getting a raise

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | April 15, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai County commissioners voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a raise for detention deputies at the county jail.

Sheriff Bob Norris said it’s not enough to solve the staffing problems.

Beginning next pay period, detention deputies will receive a raise of $2.06 per hour.

The bump in pay will reportedly bring entry-level wages from $20.71 per hour to $22.77 per hour.

That’s short of Norris’s ultimate goal of $26 per hour for entry-level detention deputies, but the commissioners emphasized the raise is an immediate measure to help the situation while other, longer-term solutions are explored.

“What I’m trying to do is get you guys some money now,” Commissioner Chris Fillios said.

Amid ongoing staffing shortages, Norris has repeatedly called on commissioners to increase KCSO’s budget. He said higher wages will enable the agency to recruit new employees and retain current ones, some of whom are leaving KCSO for other industries.

Norris has said he’s open to multiple sources of funding, from levies to impact fees for large developments.

Commissioner Leslie Duncan noted Thursday the sheriff's office has been able to recruit some new staff anyway. The agency reportedly has 14 detention deputies in training, with a few more still in the hiring process.

“By making these adjustments right now, it’s going to open it up to a whole other bubble of applicants who maybe wouldn’t be attracted at the current market,” she said.

Before the vote, the commissioners laid out two options. They could allocate a one-time $300,000 stipend to the sheriff’s office, to be distributed among 87 employees over the next 90 days.

After that window closed, the subject could be revisited as part of the 2023 budget.

Alternatively, the commissioners could approve a $2.06 raise for detention deputies, which represents a higher annual value than the single $300,000 stipend.

Given those options, Norris told commissioners he preferred the raise.

“But I don’t want everybody in this room to think it’s going to solve all our problems,” he said. “This is not going to move the needle on recruiting people from other industries.”

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Chris Fillios

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Duncan