(WBIR- Knoxville) The Knox County Sheriff's Office is considering pay increases after a survey of similar-size counties showed at least eight positions were being paid under market value.
Eleven sheriff's offices from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee responded to the survey.
Currently, the starting salary for a correctional officer in Knox County is $29,388.36. According to the survey, the lowest reported salary for the same position is $30,199.05, and the highest reported is $63,148.
Knox County Sheriff JJ Jones said they are looking at increasing the pay for these positions by at least 20 percent over the next three years.
"It's just a very stressful job that they work at and these men and women do a great job," Jones said. "They really work very hard, and I'm happy to be able to try to get their pay up where it needs to be."
Rodney Bivens, Knox County director of personnel and corrections, said the sheriff's office stopped paying yearly salary increases in 2008.
The sheriff's office is working with the mayor's office to use an approximately $500,000 surplus to pay for the raises, he said.
The $500,000 would be used within the first year of increases, but Bivens said it will take double or even triple that amount to bring the salaries up to market value.
"When we see our numbers going down from the individuals that we hire, and we know that they tell us on exit interviews that they can go somewhere else and make more money," Jones said. "We need to look at that aspect and make sure that we try to do everything we can to bring that up."