Good afternoon—Please see the below statement from Chairman Scott Silveira as discussed during today’s Board of Supervisors meeting:
The Board of Supervisors has long demonstrated its firm commitment to our public safety partners. In fact, seventy-five cents of every available discretionary general fund dollar have been dedicated to public safety for many years.
We greatly appreciate the difficult work our Sheriff’s Department does every single day to protect our community. Law enforcement agencies around the country face a number of recruitment and retention challenges, which is only made more difficult as fewer people are interested in pursuing careers in this important field. This situation is simply not unique to Merced County.
To address this issue and upon listening to the Sheriff, the Board of Supervisors worked diligently to specifically enhance wages and benefits for our public safety professionals in the Sheriff’s Department to make Merced County more competitive. While our labor contracts don’t expire until June 2024, we made a generous offer to significantly increase their wages and benefits, 6 months in advance of any obligation to do so and despite the lean financial times Merced County faces.
Our proposal increases their wages by 8 percent and their health care caps by 10 percent. While we greatly appreciate the openness, understanding, partnership and acceptance by our outstanding group of Sheriff Sergeants, we are disappointed in the outright rejection of our proposal by our Sheriff Deputies and Dispatchers without even a counterproposal to foster a conversation.
We stepped up to help them fight the recruitment and retention challenges they often highlight with the financial resources currently available to us. They elected to not accept a sizable raise and health care cap increases which only makes their challenges more challenging, and is counter to their stated narrative.
Despite the Board’s best efforts to give our Sheriff Deputies and Dispatchers an immediate raise, they unfortunately chose a different path and will now have to wait until their contract expires in June 2024.