Rural Sheriff's deputies should get a pay raise in the coming months.
The Missouri Supreme Court recently issued an opinion upholding a 2008 Missouri law that placed an additional charge of ten-dollars on each *Civil* court subpoena or summons delivered by sheriff's departments.
The Missouri Sheriff's Association says the extra money collected from that increase was designated to supplement low salaries of rural sheriff's deputies.
Until now, those dollars were on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the state of Missouri from St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, which challenged the law's legality.
Meanwhile Sheriff's deputies like Captain Robert Becker with the Clark County Sheriff's Department deal with low salaries in the mid to low $20 thousand range.
Becker said, "It's almost impossible to make it. There's months you don't make it."
But he says he's better off than others. Like many rural sheriff's departments, Clark County starts sheriff's deputies with salaries in the low to mid twenty thousand dollars a year range. He says deputies have been waiting for the promised pay raises to come through for the last two years.
Becker said, "We're all glad to see it. It's appreciated and we'll benefit from the from the law that was made."
That's echoed in other rural sheriff's offices like Lewis counties.
Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish says although this is a step in the right direction for sheriff's deputies in the state, there's still a bigger problem.
Sheriff Parrish said, "County law enforcement has always had trouble with revenue sources."
That's because counties in Missouri have to send revenues like fines and court costs into the state. The funds are then distributed from there. That leaves county sheriff's departments scrambling for dollars to pay employees....leading to low salaries.
Sheriff Parrish said, "These are people we promised to to take care of because they put on bullet proof vests when they go to work. It's time for legislators and other officials to put the money where their mouth is. We continue to fall behind."
And the pay differential is enormous. State Highway patrol troopers are paid more than $20 thousand more starting out and neighboring states like Iowa's County sheriff's deputies are paid more than $10 to $20 thousand more.
Meanwhile some Missouri's sheriff's departments don't even offer health benefits.
But for now, those deputies like Becker anxiously await a raise...no matter how small...with the hope their plight is not forgotten. When funds are released, rural sheriff's departments will be able to apply to that fund for grant dollars to increase salaries for deputies.
The fees we mentioned generate around $4 million a year for the Deputy Sheriff Salary Supplement Account.
We also contacted St. Charles county, one of the two counties which objected the legality of the law.
Officials there say they don't plan any further litigation through the courts, but now are looking to the Missouri Legislature to pick up the issue.
A spokesperson told KHQA, the county fought the new law because they feel that the money they collect should stay in the county instead of supplementing other counties in the state.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann has said taking these funds collected by St. Charles County and distributing them throughout the state is "socialism pure and simple."