Mahaska supervisors consider pay raise for county jail | Local News
OSKALOOSA – The Mahaska County Sheriff’s Department and the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors are working together to address staffing shortages at the Mahaska County Jail.
Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem met with county supervisors in a work session Tuesday to discuss current staffing shortages. The working session discussed adjusting salaries for jailers in an effort to provide a more competitive salary for Mahaska County.
“We are at critical levels in our prison,” Van Renterghem said in conversation with The Herald. “We have 13 full-time positions and three part-time positions [available] … In the next two weeks we will have lost five full-time jailers, and we have already lost two part-time jailers.
The county pay scale for jailers currently starts at $35,000 and allows for five years of $1,000 pay increases before an employee is “capped” at the end of their fifth year of employment at 40 $000. After “completed”, they will only receive a cost of living salary. Van Renterghem and the board of directors collaborated on this salary scale in 2019.
Looking back, Van Renterghem says what this collaboration didn’t take into account was the rising cost of living. Since the 2019 collaboration between the sheriff’s office and county supervisors, the board has paid its employees a cost-of-living wage that jail employees have not received because the pay scale established in 2019 has forgot to take it into account.
In July 2020, school board employees received a 2.5% cost of living increase, unlike prison employees. In July 2021 council workers received a 3% raise and in July 2022 they received a 5% raise – which no prison worker received. For this reason, Van Renterghem attended the working session to ask the board to authorize a salary increase for jailers on several levels to offset the cost of living in order to retain jailers.
“My jailers don’t leave because they don’t like the job,” Van Renterghem said. “They just leave because they have families to support.”
Van Renterghem proposed to the board to grant jailers a cost-of-living increase equal to what they would have received if the increases of the previous three years had been applied to them, in an effort to make salaries more competitive. .
“I presented the information to the council this morning on our comparison with many other prisons, and we are at the bottom of the scale at the moment, in terms of what we pay our jailers,” said Van Renterghem.
The next opportunity for the board to make a decision on jailer salaries will be at the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, August 1.