Douglas County leaders to consider approving new pay scale for public safety personnel

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday will consider approving a newly structured pay scale for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Criminal Justice Services staff.

As part of the county’s 2024 budget deliberations in July, commissioners approved an approximately $737,000 pay package for raises at the sheriff’s office, most of which was earmarked for entry-level corrections officer and deputy positions.

Commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting now will finalize the details of those pay adjustments.

According to a memo from County Administrator Sarah Plinsky, The Austin Peters Group, a consulting firm hired by the county, determined that “pay ranges for public safety needed to increase by 8.4%” to bring those wages in line with regional averages.

The consulting firm, according to Plinsky’s memo, also determined “range widths based on industry standards.”

The new pay ranges will produce a significant pay increase for both deputies and corrections officers, the law enforcement personnel who work at the Douglas County Jail. Corrections officers, for example, would see their minimum starting pay increase from $20.19 to $26.72 an hour, according to the memo from Plinsky.

Plinsky’s memo stated that implementation of pay increases and related wage adjustments is tentatively slated for Dec. 15, which will “impact the (county’s) ending fund balance for 2023.”

Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister told the Journal-World in July that wage increases for his staff were of paramount importance; he specifically said that the office was losing personnel to the higher-paying Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

In other business, commissioners will:

• Receive a list of $3.6 million worth of projects that the City of Lawrence is willing to fund as part of the city and county local match requirement for the South Lawrence Trafficway. The city at one point planned on its $3.6 million matching requirement to go toward the extension of Wakarusa Drive south of the Wakarusa River. However, that project lost support with a majority of city commissioners over environmental and cultural concerns. County officials are moving ahead with funding the Wakarusa Drive extension project, and the city said it would meet its match obligations by funding other projects that will benefit the community or the county. Projects on the proposed list include paying for several bridge improvements, annexing the county’s portion of 31st Street north of Kansas Highway 10 and assuming all maintenance responsibilities of the road, among other projects.

• Hear a work session update on the county’s plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions while adapting “to the risks of climate change.”

The commission’s work session begins at 4 p.m. at the Douglas County Courthouse at 11th and Massachusetts streets. The regular meeting follows at 5:30 p.m. The meeting can be viewed via Zoom. The agenda packet can be found on the county’s website,


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