As communities around New Mexico lose police officers to Albuquerque because of money, a proposed raise in Sandoval County is raising eyebrows.
One county commissioner warns the money is going to the wrong place.
Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block says the sheriff’s office is understaffed and a pay raise for deputies would be more beneficial for the county than for elected officials.
“First responders, they work 24 hours a day. Elected officials aren’t even required to work 40 hours a week,” Block says.
Sandoval County Commissioners are considering a 10 percent pay raise for incoming elected officials.
“If we do not take any action that means two years or four years may go down the road where elected officials do not get any type of increase in their salary,” says Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald.
This salary increase would include two county commissioners, the assessor, probate judge and the sheriff.
While not everyone is on board, some commissioners feel it’s Sandoval County deputies that should be seeing an increase in pay.
“Because of the pay gap with Bernalillo County and the Albuquerque Police Department,” Block says.
“I fear an exodus from the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office after the first of the year,” says Commissioner Dr. James F. Holden-Rhodes.
Block says the county’s priority should be public safety.
“For elected officials to be self-serving and give themselves a pay raise right before Christmas instead of our deputies and first responders, I think is very irresponsible,” Block says.
Supporters of the salary increase say there is enough money in the county to increase deputy pay, but Block says underpaid deputies aren’t the county’s only problem.
“We have other problems in the county that need to be solved. If people want to give elected officials pay raises based on performance, now is not the time to do that,” Block says.
Commissioners are set to vote on this resolution on Dec. 13. Block is requesting an emergency work session to discuss deputy pay before the meeting.
If the resolution passes, the increase would go into effect Jan. 1.