The Clay County Sheriff’s Department had been receiving grant funding since 2012 from the Deputy Sheriff’s Salary Supplementation Fund (DSSSF). The Sheriff’s Department was using this money to supplement commissioned personnel that worked for the department. This year, the MoSMART (Missouri Sheriff Methamphetamine Relief Taskforce) board changed the parameters on the grant, and much of that money suddenly dried up.
Passed in 2008, the Deputy Sheriff’s Salary Supplementation Fund Bill allowed for collection of monies by each county sheriff for the service of any summons, writ, or other court orders. These fees are then collected and deposited into the state treasury. MoSMART approves or disapproves the grants submitted by the various counties of the state.
MoSMART consists of five county sheriffs who are approved by the Governor. The board meets twice throughout the year. Current members of the board are from Chariton County (Class 3), Morgan County (Class 3), Adair County (Class 3), Oregon County (Class 3), Pettis County (Class 4, but operates under the laws of a Class 2 county).
Clay County received it’s first DSSSF monies in 2012. The amount that year was only $60K. The amount climbed significantly in 2013 to $183K, and was slightly reduced in 2014 to the amount of $163K. In 2014, the MoSMART board put a cap on the salary levels that could qualify causing the amount to go down.
The Clay County Sheriff applied this year and funding was reduced dramatically. MoSMART had decided to lower the salary cap even lower. Under the new cap, only 16 people in the Sheriff’s department were eligible for the grant funding, from a high of 124 commissioned deputies in 2013.
The Northland News attended Monday’s Clay County Commission meeting when the Clay County Commission unanimously approved a funds transfer to replace some of the lost funds. Significant discussion about the issue took place at the meeting.
Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte mentioned that the loss of funding was a surprise to both the commission and the Sheriff’s department. Expressing concern that the members of the MoSMART commission are dominated by sheriffs from Class 3 counties, it’s his hope that the Commissioners might approach the legislative delegation from Clay County and ask for the legislature to look at changing the state statute to say that no more than three members of the MoSMART board could come from anyone class of counties. Both Commissioner Ridgeway and Owen support the idea. Commissioner Gene Owen suggested that maybe it should even be as few as no more than two sheriffs from any one class of county. Currently the statute reads no more than three from one political party can be on the board.
Commissioner Ridgeway called the board’s distribution of money a form of taxation without representation and stated that “the way the legislation is currently set-up is fundamentally unfair.” There are no sheriffs on the board from Class 1 and 2 counties, but yet the existing make-up of the board is distributing monies that were taken from fees that were collected in those counties that are not represented.
We spoke with Captain Steven Siercks, Administrative Division Commander, about the funding and the state of deputy salaries in the department. Captain Siercks said this amounted to about a loss of $100 a month to many of the deputies that had previously received the funding.
Captain Siercks and Sheriff Vescovo are frustrated with the loss of funds because Clay County’s salaries for the Sheriffs department are already lower than most area law enforcement salaries. The Sheriff’s office provided The Northland News with an informal study they recently completed of area salaries. Starting salaries for Clay County Sheriff’s deputies are the lower than fifteen other law enforcement subdivisions throughout the greater Kansas City metro.
The Sheriff’s department already faces a higher turnover rate than they would like. They often lose deputies to other area law enforcement departments because of the lower salaries that Clay County currently offers. The loss of the DSSSF funding was like pouring salt in an open wound. Siercks said that the Clay County Sheriff’s Department was grateful for the Commission’s help with the fund’s transfer from Monday’s meeting.