VIRGINIA BEACH — The city wants its sheriff’s deputies and police officers to start off making the same money, and have been paying toward that end for years.
That’s because the state sets the funding of sheriff deputies’ salaries — but city leaders think they don’t get paid enough and are working to make starting salaries of police and deputies equal.
City Manager Dave Hansen wrote in an email that funding to close any pay disparity will likely be determined in the upcoming round of budget talks, but would not elaborate on where the money may come from. The city votes on the FY2020 budget on May 24.
In April of 2018, City Council voted 10-1 in favor of eliminating the pay disparity between sheriff’s deputies and police. The city commissioned a study of pay disparities following that vote, which is being finalized, according to a letter written by Hansen Friday.
According to the city’s website, entry-level sheriff’s deputies start out making $41,683 annually — or about about 90 percent of the $44,886 that entry-level police officers make a year. The comparison between agencies and pay scales only complicates with the variance of positions and job titles, said Vice Mayor Jim Wood.
Wood said City Council wants deputies and officers to operate on an equal pay scale.
“I think it’s important that all of our public safety employees are compensated fairly,” Wood said. “Being a deputy in the jail is certainly different than being a police officer on the street but it’s not less stressful of a job or less important of a job.”
The state funding of sheriff’s deputies salaries falls well below what cities pay for police officers.
“The state sets the wages for the sheriff’s office and it’s abysmally low,” Wood said. “You can’t hire people to do it for what the state wants to pay.”
Wood and Hansen have both said the city has supplemented sheriff’s office salaries for years. With that supplemented funding from the city, sheriff’s deputies starting salaries are within 90 percent of their police counterparts.
However, Wood said he wants to close that final 10 percent gap.
“We should compensate for that because we want to get the absolute best employees there are,” Wood said.
If City Council voted to commit additional funding to sheriff’s deputies salaries that closes the disparity between police officers’ salaries, Hansen wrote the city have four years to gradually phase in the funding.