Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputies are preparing for a significant pay bump entering Fiscal Year 2023, something the sheriff’s office hopes will help alleviate the impact of recent staff turnover.

Allen Mills, chief deputy, said Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office’s had a lot of deputies “sitting on the fence” and looking at the “attractions” of hiring bonuses elsewhere.

Out of the 13 deputies who left SCSO for other agencies last year, Mills said several of them accepted law enforcement positions in Santa Fe for extra money. After the office filled 16 positions in 2021, he said the sheriff’s office and union hope the impending pay raises will help stop the bleeding the recent turnover’s caused.

Orlando Carrillo

“Every time you lose an employee, you’re losing institutional knowledge… It still takes (new hires) a little while to learn the area and get into the groove of how we do our business… The county is really huge and vast,” he said.

With better pay and benefits for deputies, Orlando Carrillo, president of the Sandoval County Sheriff Deputies Association, said, SCSO will be able to be fully staffed to cover districts and have more people available to respond to calls.

“That’s always been an issue with our (office), is that we’ve never been fully staffed. That’s what hurts whenever it comes down to handling calls for service,” he said.

Breaking down the latest pay bumps, benefits

Under the latest version of the collective bargaining agreement between the county and the union, employees will get a 5 percent raise for Fiscal Year 2023 and a 3 percent raise for Fiscal Year 2024. It’ll also take just five years for deputy pay to top out, as opposed to 10 years.

The pay raise applies to those who’ve been with the sheriff’s office for at least one year and have joined the union. Raises will be done in tiers, in which years of service in the bargaining unit are calculated from the point the employee has completed the probationary period and is represented by the bargaining unit.

“Now that we’re going to be getting the raise, I think it’ll help to bring more quality deputies to our department,” Carrillo said.

For each pay period, overtime pay will kick in after 80 hours instead of 86 hours.

The county will also pick up more of the cost for benefits like retirement, medical insurance and dental insurance. For example, the county will pay 80 percent of dental insurance premiums, as opposed to 70 percent.

When the 5 percent raise takes effect in July, marking the start of Fiscal Year 2023, top-out pay for deputies will go up to $28.96 an hour.

Carrillo said the sheriff’s office has about 10 deputies on track to receive that pay jump.

The top-out amount for Fiscal Year 2024 will be $29.83.

Mills said deputies will get more money every tier jump under the latest agreement. Deputy pay tiers are as followed:

Fiscal Year 2023
Tier 1 – $24.55 per hour
Tier 2 – $25.65 per hour
Tier 3 – $26.75 per hour
Tier 4 – $27.86 per hour
Tier 5 – $28.96 per hour

Fiscal Year 2024
Tier 1 – $25.29 per hour
Tier 2 – $26.42 per hour
Tier 3 – $27.55 per hour
Tier 4 – $28.70 per hour
Tier 5 – $29.83 per hour

A brighter outlook?

Allen Mills

Mills said he hopes the latest negotiations will help SCSO retain employees and bring in new ones.

He also said the sheriff’s office’s had a 20 percent attrition rate, which is the rate at which people leave, for the past 10 to 12 years.

“People move on, people retire. We pretty much are always replacing somebody,” he said.

Carrillo said that although there’s still a bit more work that needs to be done, the pay bump’s getting closer to being on par with pay seen in Santa Fe.

Prior to the latest negotiations, he said, some deputies made around $22 or $23 per hour in Sandoval County and left to make $30 per hour in Santa Fe. He also said the only difference between Sandoval County and Santa Fe County is that Santa Fe structures its pay by a deputy’s total experience versus time spent with the sheriff’s office.

Mills said the latest negotiation terms were a “win-win” for both parties.