Pay levels within the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office were once again before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors Nov. 14, this time with the aim of bringing the undersheriff salary into line with the rest of the department.
Sheriff Todd Johns urged the Board to raise the wage paid to Undersheriff Chad Hermann. Since approval of a 20 percent pay increase for Sheriff’s employees, authorized by the supervisors Oct. 10, Hermann has made less money than 12 of the 72 people he supervises when the department is fully staffed, Johns said. He added that the county standard is for supervisors to make 7 percent more than those they supervise.
Johns requested raising Hermann’s hourly wage to a base wage of $46.10 an hour and asked that it be retroactive to May 2022, when Plumas County appointed department heads received a raise. With longevity, Hermann, who has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for 29 years, would earn $75.05 an hour.
Hermann became undersheriff in 2020. Before the Oct. 10 raise for deputies and correctional officers, his pay was 3 percent above the people he supervises. Now it is less.
Before approving a change to Hermann’s wage, the county’s contract with the undersheriff needs to be changed, said Board Chairman Greg Hagwood. Interim County Counsel Sara James agreed; the undersheriff’s wages cannot move forward until the contract has been amended, she said.
Johns first brought the issue of Hermann’s pay to the supervisors 18 months ago and has made numerous attempts to resolve it since then, he said. He has negotiated with them in closed session but the Board has taken no action.
“The longer we drag it out the more unfair it becomes,” said Johns.
“You haven’t paid us right in over a year and now you want to negotiate a contract.”Todd Johns, Plumas County Sheriff
Supervisor Dwight Ceresola weighed in on the side of a contract amendment first. Every time the supervisors try to do something about a pay raise, a contract complication “bites us,” he said. “This could get us in a wrong place again.”
Clearly frustrated, Johns disagreed with a delay to change the contract. “You haven’t paid us right in over a year and now you want to negotiate a contract.
“Why would anyone want to be the undersheriff—with all that stress and overtime—when you make less than the people who work under you?” he said.
Supervisor Jeff Engel moved to raise the undersheriff wage retroactive to May 2022 with a stipulation that the contract be amended as soon as possible. Supervisor Kevin Goss seconded his motion “to give voice to the frustration.”
While recognizing their frustration, Hagwood argued for the contract clarity James recommended. Ceresola agreed.
“When things are not correct in a contract it leads to trouble,” Ceresola said.
After a contentious discussion that included Engels asking Hagwood and Ceresola to apologize to Johns, the Board split the vote. Engel and Goss voted for it, Hagwood and Ceresola against. Supervisor Tom McGowan was absent. The motion needed four-fifths approval to pass.
Hagwood promised to bring the issue back for a vote in December. “We will get this fixed,” he said.