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FLORENCE — Pinal County deputies will receive raises to make their pay more competitive with neighboring jurisdictions following the Board of Supervisors’ approval of a budget amendment of $684,353 Wednesday.

A major part of this expense, nearly $280,000, will give deputies hired away from other agencies credit for all their years of experience on the county’s pay scale. They previously received credit for half.

“The value that we get for those years of service far exceeds the cost that you see up there,” Sheriff Mark Lamb told the board. “…If I could get laterals all day long, I think our county is better off, our agency is certainly better off.”

A deputy’s midpoint on the current salary scale is $59,148. Deputies will see an average raise of 8.7% following Wednesday’s action.

Lamb said the department has already seen a big increase in applications just based on the potential of the board approving credit for every year of experience. He thanked the board, as well as Pinal County Budget Director Angie Woods and Deputy County Manager Mary Ellen Sheppard, for their work in preparing a proposal to take to the board.

The sheriff said the county saves money by not having to send new deputies to receive the training that experienced officers come with. He said vaccine mandates at other agencies have “pushed a lot of guys that we normally would not have gotten into our agency. And we’re going to continue to see that.”

Woods told the board that it appears this budget amendment won’t be detrimental to the county’s financial stability. The county Finance Department had expected a budget reserve of 25% of spending at the end of the prior fiscal year, but she is now forecasting a general fund balance of 28% or 29%. She continued that excise tax revenues are trending significantly higher than what was budgeted.

Two months ago, Lamb asked the board for raises to help slow the departure of his officers to higher-paying agencies in the Valley. He said at the time the goal was to keep staff and also attract more “laterals,” or officers from other agencies willing to take a similar position for similar pay in Pinal County.

Years of service awards

Also Wednesday, the board congratulated several Pinal County employees for their years of service: John R. “Rocky” Celaya Jr., detention officer, 25 years; Virginia Tapia, Superior Court deputy clerk; Tamra L. Schuler, environmental health assistant in public health; Michael S. Faust, probation supervisor in Juvenile Court Services; and Joey Hogan, deputy sheriff, 20 years.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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