Sheriff's Deputy Leaves in Wake of Wage Freeze

Sheriff's Deputy Leaves in Wake of Wage Freeze

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- An Iron County sheriff's deputy has lined up a job with the Washington Police Department in the wake of Iron County commissioners postponing raises.

"I need more money to provide for my family," Deputy Jeff McKinney said. "That's the primary reason for leaving."

Sheriff Mark Gower said he is sad to see the sheriff's office team break up, but doesn't know what he can do.

"It's all in the commissioners' hands," Gower said. "I've gone as far as I can go."

Gower has spent months presenting his case to the commissioners that his deputies are underpaid, but they voted to not give raises in the 2006 budget year until a salary study is completed.

County Commission Chairman Dennis Stowell said the sheriff's department will be the first department studied and thinks preliminary results will be available in March.

"I feel bad for them (the deputies), but I feel bad for the other county employees, too. We hope they will bear with us," he said.

Gower fears that if commissioners postpone raises past March, more deputies will leave.

"They are frustrated," he said. "The commissioners have a big job, trying to make it work. I'm confident they will, but if not ..."

Another deputy left for a higher-paying job before the budget hearing.

The two vacancies in the shift schedule do not present a public safety issue, but if more leave, there will have to be some maneuvering, Gower said.

"It would mean a high overtime budget to keep coverage, but I'm committed to providing the best law enforcement service possible," he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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