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Moments after being sworn into office as sheriff, Mike Morse stood in front of Frio County commissioners to ask for a budget amendment for salary increases.
“I am bringing in three men with me: Peter Salinas, John Meyer and Joshua Longoria,” the county’s top law enforcement officer said. “All I am asking is that they be brought in at the salary of the person they are replacing.”
A 2019 county policy requires a person who fills a vacancy be hired at the lowest salary.
“The pay grade scale says that whenever a vacancy has been created we are required to bring the salary down to the minimum pay grade,” Frio County Auditor Crystal Marquez said. “Sheriff Morse has to come to commissioners’ court to request the salary not go down to minimum pay grade.”
More said that Salinas will join the sheriff’s office as chief deputy. Salinas recently resigned his position as chief of police for Pearsall. Meyer will serve as the jail administrator and Longoria will be the lieutenant of patrol.
“These are fine young men,” Morse said. “They will help build a nice foundation and I have all the confidence in them. They are not rookies.”
County Attorney Joseph Sindon said the policy was implemented to ensure the vacant position salary was commensurate with the person’s experience. He added that often vacancies are filled after employees have served for many years and when the vacancy is filled the salary reflects longevity and experience.
“The reason is we do not want the vacant seat that had been held by someone for a long time and commensurate with their experience, then for someone to come in and earn that pay,” Sindon said.
Commissioners chose to take no action on the agenda item which would have mandated Salinas, Meyer and Longoria be hired at the minimum pay grade.
Marquez said the only increase in salary would be the jail administrator position by $4,000.
“That jail administrator is going to have the toughest job,” Morse said. “Now let’s get to work.”