Click here to listen to Governor Brownback’s press conference
EL DORADO — El Dorado Correctional Facility officers will be getting a raise. All uniformed staff at the facility will receive a 10 percent increase going from $13.95 per hour to $15.75 per hour.
Uniformed staff at facilities across the state will receive a 5 percent increase to make $14.66 per hour. Governor Sam Brownback announced the increases in a press conference at EDCF in front of state representatives and staff.
“This is what we can do now,” Brownback said. “Under the authority of the administration, this is what we can do now to take steps towards making pay more competitive.”
State released documents put turnover at El Dorado the highest amount all the state ran facilities. So far there is a 46.11 percent turnover rate with Ellsworth being the next highest at 34.78 percent. The majority of the state’s corrections officers have less than 2 years experience with only 26 percent making up those with 5 or more years of experience for all state facilities. The increase pertains to corrections officers classes IA, IB, and II, and corrections supervisors levels I and II.
The pay increase will happen almost immediately. It first must be approved in a meet and confer process with state union representatives. Once that process is completed the state hopes to have the increase included in the next pay period on Aug. 27. Those making less than the new hiring rates will see their pay increased to those rates if their job description aligns with one of the classifications listed above.
Brownback’s comments where then followed by statements by corrections secretary Joe Norwood.
“We’ve discussed staff turnover for a number of years,” Norwood said. “It’s been a challenge because of a tight job market in this field. In past years we’ve had ample applications to fill positions available by turnover. That pool has dried up.”
When asked Norwood said that recent incidents at EDCF had “no impact” on the decision to increase pay for corrections officers and supervisors.
An example of that competitiveness is only a few miles away. Butler County is currently paying $13.99 an hour for corrections officers at Butler County Jail. In January that will increase to $15.50. However, the population of inmates at the Butler County Jail is vastly different than “on the hill” with maximum security inmates from Larned being rotated into the EDCF population.
“We’ve been following the situation at EDCF pretty close,” Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said. “We’re glad to see their employees get a pay increase. It’s not a job for everybody and people who work at those families need to be paid a decent livable wage to work in the environment that they do.”
In addition to the increase, Norwood said the Kansas Department of Corrections has been aggressively advertising the open positions and looking for creative ways to reach potential applicants. Recruitment has also been an area they are looking to improve.
“We’re manning all critical posts just as we would with a full staff,” Norwood said. “We’ve shifted population to shift resources and close one housing unit. We’ll continue to evaluate the emergency declaration as the situation evolves.”
Norwood said that 19 people are currently in training and set to start soon at EDCF. In the meantime, some staff is being rotated to 12-hour shifts instead of their standard 8. Norwood is also pushing for a new facility in Lansing.