Alleghany Sheriff requesting $1,500 raise for full-time staff

The county has never supplemented the state salary for deputies

ALLEGHANY COUNTY, VA – As budget season approaches, WSLS is taking a look at an important decision every county in Virginia has to make: how much to supplement the income of sheriff's deputies. According to the Virginia Sheriff's Association, the state provides a $31 thousand salary for starting deputies, and counties are responsible for anything more. Right now in Alleghany County, deputies receive nothing more, and that's something Sheriff Kevin Hall wants to see change.


Hall is proposing a $15 hundred increase in salary for all full-time staff at the department. It's a request that already has the support of two members of the Board of Supervisors, but others say it's not as simple as writing a check.


Chief Jailor Mickey Craghead is the longest running member of the Sheriff's Department. He's been there 37 years. In that time the county has never supplemented deputy pay, and he says his staff leave because of it.


"They've simply gone down here the street to Westrock where salaries are a quite deal better. They've gone to other businesses where salaries are going to be better for them," said Craghead.


Now, he says he's running the county jail with a skeleton crew.


"I have 100 inmates in my jail. I have four deputies. That's one deputy to every 25 inmates, and there's nothing safe about it," said Craghead.


Sheriff Hall says he's had retention problems as well, and taking a look at other counties, he's starting to see why.


"I've checked with Botetourt and Rockbridge and Franklin County, even Bath County, our neighbor. All these counties, they supplement their people, and all our people get is what the Comp Board reimburses Alleghany County," said Hall.


But not every supervisor is sold on the idea of an increase.


"There's a fairness part to this. Maybe they deserve it, maybe we want to do it, but the reality is we're picking one section out of the entire county staff and doing something for them we're not doing for the others," said Steve Bennett, Chair of the county Board of Supervisors.


Bennett also says, if you want to fund deputy pay, there's an unpleasant truth that comes with it.


"You're going to have to raise taxes to do it. If you're going to create a permanent ongoing expense, you have to create a permanent, ongoing source for it," said Bennett.


That ongoing source would be a one cent increase to the real estate tax rate for every hundred dollars of assessed value, but Craghead says, at this point, it's about more than the money.


"We're just asking for them to say yes to this 15 hundred dollars, and to show the community, to show this department, to show their constituents that they support us, and they're willing to do it by more than saying they just support us," said Craghead.


Supervisors will be holding a work session Thursday night to discuss the funding request.