Unfunded mandate for deputy sheriff salaries stricken for the year

January 28, 2020

A bill that would have required an increase in minimum salaries for deputy sheriffs was stricken from the docket today at the behest of the patron in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

SB 1085 (Pillion) provided that the minimum salary for all deputy sheriffs, law enforcement and non-law enforcement, shall be set at the compensation board minimum plus a 20 percent supplement. This supplement would have required localities to foot the bill unless that locality was designated as high or above average according to the Commission on Local Government’s Fiscal Stress Index as of July 1, 2020.  For those localities at high or above average fiscal stress, the bill directed the Commonwealth to pay the entire sum of the difference between the current salary paid and the new required minimum.  For those localities not at high or above average fiscal stress, however, the cost fell directly to them and was estimated to be over $9 million in total.

VACo was quick to express our concerns about the fiscal impact to Senator Todd Pillion and additionally relayed our concern that this would set a dangerous precedent.  We also voiced our fear that the bill would open the door for greater future financial impacts should localities fiscal stress level change in ensuing years.

After several discussions, Senator Pillion understood the position localities are in and ultimately agreed to strike the bill for the year.  He instead has agreed to partner with VACo and other stakeholders over the course of the next year to comprehensively study the issue of deputy sheriffs’ salaries and come back for the 2021 legislative session with fresh ideas.  VACo is grateful for the hard work Senator Pillion has done on this issue and is eager to work with him to address this in the coming months.

While SB 1085 has been taken care of for the year, HB 1302 (Hurst), the House counterpart, is still alive.  That being said, HB 1302 has yet to be placed on an agenda, and initial discussions between VACo and Delegate Chris Hurst’s office revealed that the Delegate is still considering alternative paths forward, so the bill’s future is unclear.

VACo will continue to monitor and report any changes in status.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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