Williamson County still seeking qualified corrections officers

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — They’re always training in the Williamson County Jail, but these seats may not stay full for long. The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office says it’s losing corrections officers to surrounding counties.

“They’re going for more pay and it’s an easier workload for them because right now being so short-staffed, I have to bring in overtime,” explains Assistant Chief Deputy Mike Gleason with the Williamson County Corrections Bureau.

Over the last four years, the money spent on overtime for corrections officers keeps climbing:

2012-2013 fiscal year: $268,144 spent on overtime

2013-2014 fiscal year: $640,875

2014-2015 fiscal year: $789,912

First quarter of 2015-2016 fiscal year: $383,668

Assistant Chief Deputy Mike Gleason says they asked for a larger pay raise, but didn’t get it. The county says it denied a pay raise last year because corrections officers got a lump sum for raises in 2013. They also say a salary comparison of other local counties puts Williamson County in the middle of the pay scale. The county provided the data below. However, the sheriff’s office says vacancies have increased to 17 in Williamson County for corrections officers, and that doesn’t include seven medics who are also licensed to be correction officers.

Comparison Collin Denton Travis Willamson
FY15 Turnover Rate – CO 22% 20.50% 17.93%
Total Number of CO 242 333 679 155
Current Vacancies – CO 19 28 40 10
Starting Salary – CO $35,195 $30,964 $38,920 $32,775/$33,513 after 6 months

With a $34,000 starting pay, Gleason says the turnover will continue.

He says, “You want them to stay here, you want them to live here, you want them to spend their money here, you want them to raise their children here, buy homes, that all increases to the tax base as well, not pack up and go to Austin.”

Gleason says the only way to stop that from happening is to make pay for these officers more competitive.

Williamson County corrections officers do get automatic pay raises every year, but Gleason says the 2.5 percent or less, isn’t making much of a difference in their salaries.

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