Setting salary before duties not wise

Published 12:01am Friday, December 14, 2012

We’re disappointed that apparently Sheriff Chuck Mayfield and the Adams County Board of Supervisors negotiated a “deal” over management of the county’s juvenile detention center.

Last year, supervisors realized the juvenile center is rarely at capacity, often unoccupied, but had its own full-time, 24-7 staff.

Supervisors wisely sought to keep the facility open, but staffed in a more intelligent manner. But what they did wasn’t in the best interest of taxpayers, but the best interest of another elected official.

Apparently, in exchange for agreeing to later assume responsibility for the juvenile facility, the sheriff convinced supervisors to lobby the Legislature for an additional $20,000 in annual salary for the sheriff.

That’s not an increase in the sheriff’s budget to fund additional deputies or other staff, but taxpayer money going directly to the sheriff.

The county shouldn’t have agreed to that before truly getting a handle on what, exactly, the additional duties would mean for the sheriff or his deputies.

Clearly, the sheriff should be well compensated for his responsibilities and his leadership of the sheriff’s office.

But county leaders also need to explain why having responsibility for what some people describe as a nearly empty juvenile center requires a more than 27-percent pay raise for the sheriff.

That seems a steep price for taxpayers to pay, particularly since no one knows exactly how much time it will actually involve.

Thus far, the justification centers on the defense that even at $20,000, it’s a big savings over the previous manager’s salary. That’s true, but two wrongs don’t make a right, either.