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Are they meeting about deputy pay?
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The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will meet today in closed session to discuss an item pertaining to threats to public services or facilities. 

Because the item was agendized as taking place in closed session, the County of San Joaquin would not provide more information about the specifics of the discussion but said that a report out from the meeting will be given at its conclusion. 

The development of the special meeting – which will take place less than one week before the board was regularly scheduled to meet at on Aug. 27 – came just a matter of days after San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow made a dramatic announcement from the Sheriff’s Office facility in French Camp about how he would have to suspend and cut back on programs in order to be able to keep enough deputies on patrol to keep both the public and officers safe.

Some of those cuts include transferring deputies away from county buildings like the Human Services Agency and the San Joaquin County Administration Building – deputies which provide security at events like the meetings of the Board of Supervisors. 

Withrow also said that he’s also planning on pulling two deputies from the San Joaquin County Courthouse – filling those positions on a per diem basis with retired law enforcement personnel – and will have to rethink posting a deputy at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport which just recently added another daily flight to Los Angeles. 

At the heart of the issue, according to the sheriff, is the lack of a competitive contract with deputies that have been in negotiations with county administration their previous contract lapsed in 2015. As a result, 10 deputies have left for neighboring agencies like Manteca that can pay up to $2,500 more every month for relatively lateral moves, and 26 more have expressed interest in doing the same. 

While the agency that represents the deputy sheriff’s boasts more than 300 members, Withrow said that there are less than 70 currently assigned to patrolling the county, and taking roughly 30 percent hit to that personnel base would drastically impact the way that law enforcement operations are carried out at the county level. 

The County of San Joaquin, however, posted a progress report on contract negotiations on its website last week that described a 27.5 percent wage increase under the previous memorandum of understanding that ran from 2007 to 2015, and an offer for a 5 percent wage increase over three years with additional enhancements including a longevity pay supplement and the conversion of a salary based supplement from a percentage to a flat amount. The county’s proposal would cost the county an additional $1.2 million every year and $2.9 million over a 36-month period. The county also made a last, best, and final offer back in February that would have required the DSA pay the same level towards their retirement and health insurance as other county employee groups do. 

The union, in its last proposal to the county, asked for wage increases totaling 6 percent over three years for an annual cost $2.5 million or a 36-month cost of $8.7 million. 

Withrow was pointed in his comments to last week, encouraging residents to reach out their elected officials and encourage them to approve a contract that he believed was earned – especially after he said deputies gave up a raise in order to keep the county solvent, only for a contract never to be achieved. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.