Pima County residents are wondering what he means when County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says that law enforcement officers are valued. Because Huckelberry has an affinity for calculating by lattes it may serve to use the same measure he prefers in order to understand exactly what he means.
Currently, deputies, who were hired in 2007, make a mere $1.32 more per hour in 2015 than they did in 2007, according to sources.
When value is counted by lattes, deputies make less than one-quarter of a latte more than they did before the Great Recession. Yet, Huckelberry claimed in a recent op-ed: “An average salary increase of 28 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession would seem to indicate we clearly value the services provided by our deputies and corrections officers.”
If over 60 percent of the deputies earn only $1.32 more an hour because they were denied step increases, yet the average salary in the Sheriff’s Department has increased by 28 percent, that would mean that the average hourly rate of pay was approximately $4.71.
That is a little more than one latte an hour.
However, we know that deputies make more than that. So, how did Huckelberry arrive at the 28 percent?
Is it possible that Huckelberry was including the very top salaries to calculate the massive 28 percent increase? Possibly. The top salaries are substantial and would skew the average upward.
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While Huckelberry’s claim that the “county (sic) pays competitive salaries to our employees; not the highest, nor the lowest,” might be true, it is incomplete. The County pays deputies some of the lowest wages in the state, while paying the highest wage for county administrator types in the state.
However, according to sources, Chuck didn’t use the high salaries of the Sheriff Department’s big-wigs to achieve those numbers.
Instead, he arrived at the 28 percent by digging deeper in the past to grab numbers generated by decompression. If you factor in the last decompression, which includes deputies that have been in the Department far longer than the seven year time period Chuck refers to, the number could have gotten quite high – maybe even as high as 28 percent.
Here’s how that works.
If you include the handful of deputies, who were subjects of the last decompression, you could skew the numbers upwards of 28 percent, because the County was a disaster even back then. While little over 30 percent of the force were subjects of the decompression, the corrective action needed was so drastic that it amounted to a relatively huge pay jump between 2006 and 2008; more than 18 percent.
And then there is the majority of deputies. The majority – 62 percent – was hired after January 1, 2008. That group has only received a mere 4 percent increase with the $.50 COLA. Of that meager increase, 1 percent was paid to offset the medical cost increase resulting from Obamacare.
Granted the average resident in Pima County has not seen a 4 percent increase in wages – if they were lucky enough to have kept their jobs or businesses at all – but the average resident does not put their life on the line on a daily basis.
The bottom line is that Huckelberry went as far back as he could go to generate the 28 percent, making the number essentially meaningless.
If we were to go that far back, in 2007 Huckelberry earned $198,000, and 2015 he’s making $320,000. That is a 62 percent increase. That is 64000 lattes a year.
The 28 percent increase sounded high, but pales in comparison to Chuck’s 62 percent.
Huckelberry is correct when he concludes his op-ed with the statement: “In these types of important discussions, the facts do matter.” Agreed, but NOT cherry-picking facts matters just as much, if not more, Chuck.