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Spin Control

Jail Lts. give up COLAs

Spokane County jail lieutenants agreed to contract concessions that will wipe out their cost-of-living raises, overtime and comp time in 2010.

The agreement with the county, which comes as most departments are expecting to start next year with a budget that is 11 percent smaller than the one the had at the end of last year, would reduced the Sheriff’s budget by about $57,000.

“It wasn’t a hard sell at all,” Lt. Jay Hughes, the head of the seven member unit said Wednesday. “We all knew the budget was suffering.”

Under their existing contract, members of Local 492CL were scheduled to get a 1 percent cost-of-living raise on Jan. 1, and another 1 percent on July 1. They are also entitled to overtime or compensatory time when working more than 40 hours a week. Under the agreement, proposed by the unit members themselves, they will remain at this year’s pay, and become salaried employees not eligible for overtime or comp time. In return, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich guaranteed that none of them would be demoted to close the gap in the budget.

Jail lieutenants, who work at either the County Jail or the Geiger Corrections Center, earn between $64,990 and $87,695 a year. Their three-year contract, which ends Dec. 31, 2010, had a 1 percent cost of living increase in 2008, plus 1 percent increases this year on Jan. 1 and July 1.


Other unions are making their own proposals and county officials are putting pressure on the unions to trim or give up their cost of living increases to ease the budget shortfall.

At a meeting Tuesday night to discuss projected cuts in the sheriff, prosecutor and other criminal justice departments, County Board Chairman Todd Mielke said law enforcement would not be spared from cuts. He also made clear county officials were looking to rollbacks of raises they county had agreed to in contracts it signed two years ago.

“All of us have neighbors, family and friends who are not getting salary increases, but seeing salary cuts and layoffs,” Mielke said. “It’s not really about if we make these cuts, it’s about how we make these cuts.”

Hughes said he hasn’t heard any negative reaction from members of other unions to the lieutenants’ decision to give up raises and overtime. The savings create a domino effect that mean a lieutenant wouldn’t be moved down to a sergeant’s level and a sergeant moved down to a lower rank, he said.


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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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