Pierce County Council approves ‘major increase’ in budget for law enforcement salaries

TACOMA, Wash. — Some changes made to Pierce County’s budget this week will likely mean salary increases for Pierce County sheriff’s deputies.

The county council’s budget changes included re-allocating part of Pierce County’s funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“A lot has changed since November when the budget was adopted that we couldn’t predict at the time,” said Pierce County Council chair Derek Young, who noted the effects of the war in Ukraine, high gas prices, inflation and the pandemic’s effect on the supply chain.

“The bulk of the changes to the budget were done to support the anticipated impacts of the proposed labor agreement with the deputies guild,” Young said. “We are trying to prepare for a significant increase in operating costs when it looks like revenue projections won’t keep pace.”

Of the reallocated ARPA funds, $4 million will be used for recruitment and retention bonuses for the sheriff’s department and salary increases for deputies.

“This budget represents a major increase in investment in law enforcement expenditures for salaries,” Young said. “Sadly, it doesn’t change anything in the need to increase the number of deputies filling the department’s vacancies. To compete in this market, we need to step up substantially.”

Though the allotment was approved by the council, the contract still needs approval by the bargaining unit.