Compromise reached on KCSO pay increase

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Sheriff Tom Spangler announced a budget compromise agreement Friday morning that includes a starting salary raise to $51,100 for patrol officers and $50,100 for corrections officers.

The additional $3.975 million in additional funds to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office will go into the proposed county budget to be considered in today’s meeting of the Knox County Commission at 5 p.m. Mayor Glenn Jacobs is proposing the increase without a hike in taxes and some of the additional money will come from the Uniformed Officers Pension Plan retirement funds some county deputies take part in.

The savings in the pension plan comes from future county lower contributions to the plan, which is estimated to save $ l9 million over the next 20 years.

The pensionable pay will be capped at 3% and the sheriff has agreed to drop 29 unfilled corrections positions.

The pay increase begins when the 2024 budget, if approved by commission, takes effect on July 1. It will apply to patrol and corrections officers ranked captain and below. Chiefs will get a 5% increase and civilian employees in the department will receive a 3% raise. KCSO employees will also receive the same pay increase as all other Knox County employees.

“More work has to be done,” Finance Director Chris Caldwell said of future raises. KCSO Financial Director Allison Rogers said she and Caldwell worked together to hammer out the agreement and added that recruiting new officers is difficult and a higher staring salary may help in the effort.

Patrol officers will start at $24.57 per hour and correction officers will start at $24.09 per hour. That’s a 12% raise for patrol officers and a 27% raise for corrections officers.

Sheriff Spangler said a $10 booking and processing fee will be started at the jail and he plans to work with the state and federal governments to increase the reimbursement rates.

Mayor Jacobs called the raises “historic” and Sheriff Spangler thanked Rogers and Caldwell for working out the agreement and said, of his employees, “Knox County deserves the best men and women.”

The sheriff had initially requested a 30% raise for his officers and the mayor had offered an 8% increase. Sheriff Spangler had threatened a lawsuit if an agreement could not be reached.