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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
March 5, 2024

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Clark County sheriff’s support staff earn bonuses

County council approves funds from federal pandemic grant

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark County Sheriff’s Office support staff will soon receive a one-time $2,000 retention bonus.

The Clark County Council unanimously approved the bonuses with a 4-0 vote during its meeting Tuesday. Chair Karen Bowerman was absent.

In a staff report, County Manager Kathleen Otto said the county had negotiated the bonus plan with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Support Guild.

Facing a critical shortage of deputies, the council initially approved allocating $3.3 million in federal COVID-19 pandemic grant funds in June and October of 2022 to boost deputies’ pay and make the sheriff’s office more competitive with other law enforcement agencies. The sheriff’s office began offering a $10,000 hiring bonus for new deputies and $25,000 bonus to deputies already certified.

According to the staff report, the retention bonuses will be paid using the federal grant funds. Retention bonuses will be paid to support staff employed by the sheriff’s office prior to June 1, 2022.

The terms approved by the council Tuesday include: If an employee voluntarily leaves employment prior to Feb. 28, 2024, the retention bonus will be deducted from their final paycheck; any employee who involuntarily or medically separates from employment will not be required to repay the bonus; and guild members can opt out of the retention bonus.

The retention bonuses were included in contract negotiations between the guild and the county that were finalized in December.

The new three-year contract included a 10 percent pay increase in 2023 and additional 5 percent increases in both 2024 and 2025.

Then Sheriff-elect John Horch said the new contract terms, pay and bonuses would help the sheriff’s office remain competitive and reduce the number of deputies lost to other jurisdictions in the county, especially the Vancouver Police Department.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that support staff with the sheriff’s office will be receiving the retention pay.