A lot of people and a lot of organizations got a lot of taxpayer money in Guilford County’s 2024-2025 fiscal budget, but one group that was hoping to see pay increases got left high and dry. Heading into the week that the budget was adopted, it was expected that the Sheriff’s Office’s officers would see solid pay increases given the competition for officers from other area law enforcement agencies.

Commissioner Alan Perdue, who served for years as Guilford County Director of Emergency Services before retiring and being elected a commissioner, said it’s imperative to raise the pay for the group of county workers who put their lives at risk every day in an effort to keep the county safe.

“There are a couple of things here that the budget doesn’t address that I think we need to address ASAP over the next month,” Perdue said at the meeting. “One of those is dealing with the salaries of our public safety workers, and assuring that you have the boots on the ground.”

Guilford County has been having difficulty for years holding on to sworn officers and non-sworn officers (such as detention officers) due to a high demand for their services and increasing pay in surrounding counties, which have been successful in luring many fine officers away from service in Guilford County.

The new 2024-2025 budget does include an increase of $2 million for the Sheriff’s Office to bring the pay up slightly; however, for a long time, the Board of Commissioners has been discussing doing something much more significant for the officers.

 Sheriff’s Department employees were hoping to see the commissioners deliver that in the new budget.

“We’ve got to address that problem,” Perdue said.

He also said that law enforcement and Emergency Services vehicles, as well as other county vehicles, were being kept for too many years to save money and that was especially problematic.

“We need to do what’s necessary to get a vehicle replacement program in place,” Perdue said.

He said he knew from experience that, once you fall behind in that regard, it’s difficult to catch up.

Commissioner Pat Tillman, like several other commissioners right after the new county budget was adopted on Thursday night, June 20, stated that it’s very important that the board work in the next few months to see what can be done to increase the pay of the county’s law enforcement officers given that they are so critical to keeping the county safe.

“The glaring piece that I view as missing [in the just-adopted budget] is sheriffs’ pay,” Tillman said.  “We need to take that up as soon as we can.

He said that Sheriff’s Office pay in Guilford County doesn’t compare well with the pay of other law enforcement agencies in the area.

Several other commissioners also made the same point that evening in their comments right after the new budget was adopted. In fact, there seemed to be so much support for higher Sheriff’s Office salaries that it was something of a mystery that there wasn’t more pay for the officers in the same budget that managed to find plenty of money to hand out to a hodge podge of non-profit agencies.

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said this week that he did expect the board to take up the question of deputy and detention officer pay in the next few months

He said that the commissioners really needed to hold a work session with staff to discuss the issue in order to determine what to do and said that, in the final week of budget crunch time, that was one issue that “fell through the cracks” since time was short and neither he, nor Guilford County Manager Mike Halford, put the issue on a pre-budget work session agenda.