Deputy sheriff's fund not accessible by Boone County

Thursday, October 28, 2010 | 7:17 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The salaries of some sheriff's deputies in Missouri are getting a boost. Boone County will contribute more than $100,000 annually to a statewide pool that will fund the increases, but it will not be able to access the money to pay its own deputies more.

Only counties with sheriff's deputies whose salaries are below the state average will be able to lobby for access to the funds, a requirement Boone County does not meet.

The county's starting salary for deputies is currently $33,106.50 per year, which sits above the state average of $28,000.

A $10 additional charge on all court documents served by sheriff's departments statewide is funding the pool, and Boone County's contribution is based on the number of documents served last year by the sheriff's department.

In 2009, Boone County served 10,510 papers. The previous cost of serving these documents, which falls to the party issuing the court case, was raised from $20 to $30.

Despite the fact that Boone County will be unable to access these funds, Maj. Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff's Department supports the legislation, which the General Assembly passed and the governor signed in 2008.

The law, however, was challenged by St. Louis and St. Charles counties, who argued that the extra fee amounted to a tax, according to The Associated Press. The Missouri Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument and upheld the law in a unanimous ruling Tuesday.

"Boone County did not oppose it in the hopes that in the long run, deputies across the state will have a workable wage, then down the road hopefully county employee retirement benefits can be addressed and improved," he said.

St. Louis County also opposed the legislation, which would cause extra charges for funds that won't stay in the county, because its deputy salaries also are above the average.

"We were opposed to that, and were opposed to the court's decision," St. Louis County Executive Mac Scott said. "We are looking to see where we can go from here. This fee that is being charged is being charged to benefit sheriffs outside St. Louis County."

Counties have been assessing the extra fees since late 2009. The Associated Press reported that the salary fund sits at $5.3 million and that no money has been distributed from it thus far.

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