Salaries for Prince Edward deputies are region’s lowest. That will change.

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

FARMVILLE – Prince Edward deputies currently have the lowest salaries among law enforcement in our region. That’s led to problems, according to Sheriff Tony Epps, both with recruiting new employees and keeping the ones here now. To deal with the issue, the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors signed off on some changes during their meeting Tuesday, Oct. 25. 

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and compete for talent in our region, and especially for sheriff’s deputies and dispatchers,” Epps told the board in a letter. “At present, I have one vacancy and one imminent retirement. I will be losing two deputies in October and (the) rumor within the department is that others may be looking to leave. Other law enforcement agencies are actively recruiting our officers.” 

The issue comes down to money. The starting salary for a Prince Edward County deputy is $41,519. That ranks the lowest in a region including Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg and Nottoway counties, along with the town of Farmville and Piedmont Regional Jail. The closest to Prince Edward are Lunenburg and Appomattox, both of which start deputies off at $42,000. Nottoway offers the highest starting salary in the area, at $47,185, with Farmville coming in second at $45,011. 

“Lower salaries, combined with the significantly higher workload in Prince Edward County, is making recruitment more difficult,” Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley told supervisors. (It’s causing) an increase in personnel resignations and a decrease in qualified applicants.” 

In his letter to the board, Epps agreed. He said the workload for deputies and dispatchers alike in Prince Edward is larger than any of the surrounding counties. 

“(It) makes recruitment that much harder,” he wrote. 

Options for Prince Edward deputies

Epps had come to the board Tuesday night with a request for a $5,000 increase for deputies and a $2,000 increase for dispatchers. The county’s finance committee, on the other hand, recommended just a $2,000 increase for deputies. 

Stanley laid out three options for supervisors. They could give $2,000 to all full and part-time deputies, as well as dispatchers. The second option was to only give $2,000 to full-time staff and the third was to only give the $2,000 raise to full-time deputies. 

By a unanimous vote, Prince Edward supervisors went with the first option. As of Jan. 1, 2023, all full-time and part-time deputies and dispatchers will see their yearly salaries increase by $2,000. 

“The increase will bring Prince Edward among the top three (in the region) regarding financial compensation,” Stanley said. 

The decision will put Prince Edward just behind Nottoway and Farmville in terms of offered starting salaries. As of January, the starting salary for a Prince Edward County deputy will come in at $43,519. That’s just ahead of Amelia County, where the starting salary is $43,250. 

“Sheriff Epps laid out a good case that his department is losing deputies simply due to compensation in a competitive environment,” said District 7 Supervisor Cannon Watson. “Prince Edward was right at the bottom of the pay scale for deputies and dispatchers compared to surrounding municipalities—but this round of raises moves us well up the grid as far as average compensation to keep quality personnel.   Investing in people who keep us safe is vital. 

What does this mean for the budget?

The change adds a total of $106,516 to Prince Edward County’s budget on a yearly basis. However, that won’t fully hit until the next fiscal year. Because the change doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, only half of that comes out of the current budget. Half of $106,516 is $53,258.