Memo for fiscal year 2020, updated 2019-03-22

[Archived] Question #47: Can the utilization of new U.S. Marshal's revenue be used to adjust the City pay scale for Sheriff's Deputies?


Can the utilization of new U.S. Marshal's revenue be used to adjust the City pay scale for Sheriff's Deputies? (City Manager Jinks)


ISSUE: (1) Generation of new revenues by the Sheriff’s Office; and (2) Utilization of those new revenues to adjust the City pay scale for Deputy Sheriffs.

RECOMMENDATION: Utilize through the add/delete process, $330,000 of projected new U.S. Marshal’s Service per diem revenue, to be paid by the federal government for use of City Detention Center bed space to fund an FY 2020 contingent sufficient to fund a 2.37% increase in the pay scale for City Deputy Sheriffs effective in October, 2019.

BACKGROUND: As part of the development of the budgets for FY 2019 and FY 2020 there have been extensive conversations concerning the compensation of public safety personnel. As a result, in FY 2019 uniformed personnel on the Police pay scale received an across the board 6.22% pay increase, uniformed personnel on the Fire and EMS scales received a 5% across the board increase, and certain uniformed officer positions in the Sheriff’s office received a grade increase. However, no across-the-board increase was approved for uniformed employees on the Deputy Sheriff pay scale, as the leadership of those on that pay scale and Sheriff Lawhorne’s first priority has been and remains shifting the Sheriff s uniformed employees from the general Virginia Retirement System (VRS) plan to the public safety VRS plan1. Such a shift could not be implemented in FY 2019 because the City needed to have VRS’s actuaries calculate the cost of such a pension plan shift to see if the City could afford such a shift. In January, VRS issued its report indicating that the annualized cost of the shift to the public safety VRS plan was $1.3 million which was higher than hoped.

In the FY 2020 budget, I proposed that the shift to the public safety VRS plan be approved with the shift occurring in October, 2019 and with the City covering a large portion of the cost ($0.7 million in FY 2020, and $1.0 million in FY 2021), but that the uniformed Sheriff’s employees would increase their contribution for retirement and/or have their City Supplemental Retirement plan benefits trimmed with a cost savings of $0.3 million per year. Currently Sheriff’s Deputies pay 5% into VRS and 0% into the City Supplemental Retirement Plan, while General Scale employees pay 5% into VRS and 2% into the City Supplemental Plan, and Police and Fire uniformed employees pay 8% into the City Fire/Police plan.

During the time period when the City was waiting for the VRS cost estimates, the City’s HR department was collecting its regional comparator data. For the Sheriff’s uniformed employees, the data shows that the City is 3.87% below where its “middle position” pay philosophy indicates the City should be for this group of employees. However, given the priority of the VRS plan shift, this Sheriff pay scale adjustment was not funded in the FY 2020 Proposed Budget.

After the FY 2020 proposed budget was completed the Sheriff identified a new revenue opportunity. While the City jail has long held federal prisoners under a U.S. Marshal’s per diem contract, nearly all of those prisoners derived from court activity of the U.S. Court for Eastern District of Virginia (which is located in the City). The new revenue opportunity is to house prisoners from the U.S. Court of the District of Columbia. The U.S. Marshals have indicated that they would like to shift some of their prisoners (an average of 20 prisoners per day) from the District of Columbia jail to Alexandria. After accounting for using current paid-for-but-unused beds (but would utilize with a shift of prisoners from the District jail), it appears that the City could net about $330,000 per year in new earned revenues for increased use by the U.S. Marshals of the City Detention Center.

Given these new added revenues, and the not-funded-but-needed increase in the Sheriff’s pay scale, it is recommended that the new U.S. Marshals $330,000 in revenues be set aside in an FY 2020 contingent to fund a 2.37% increase in the Sheriff’s uniformed employees pay scale starting in October. This 2.37% increase, while falling short of the 3.87% increase would make significant progress towards this pay scale funding need and also would provide funding for Sheriff’s Deputies to potentially pay an increased amount into their retirement plan and therefore approach parity with other City employee groups.

Given that this is a policy choice, it is not proposed that this recommendation be a part of the budget processes’ annual “technical corrections” actions, but that this receipt and use of these U.S. Marshals funding for a Sheriff’s pay scale contingent be considered as part of the Council add/delete process.

1 By State Law, Sheriffs in Virginia are automatically members of the public safety VRS plan.

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