Sheriff’s Department business manager's pay jumps to $109,449; Stanislaus deputies' union protests

kcarlson@modbee.comDecember 19, 2013 

— The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is hiring a new business manager at the top of the pay scale, sparking protest from a deputies union.

Sheriff Adam Christianson received unanimous approval from county supervisors Tuesday to pay $109,449 a year to Seth Rogers, who will take over as business manager for the department beginning Dec. 30. That amount is the most the county could offer and about $36,000 more than the lowest end of the advertised salary range.

The pay hike drew a protest from Matt Pettus, president of the Stanislaus County Deputy Sheriff's Association. He told county supervisors it was sending the wrong message to other department employees. Pettus noted the department is losing deputies at current pay levels and has a hard time filling the vacancies.

The salary for Rogers is subject to an ongoing 5 percent pay cut for county employees.

Board Chairman Vito Chiesa said he trusted the sheriff’s recommendation that the salary was needed to fill the managerial position. “We are very aware of the retention problems we are having (with deputies),” Chiesa said.

On Wednesday, Christianson defended the boost in pay for the finance position. He said none of the 17 candidates who applied and took a mandatory test had the skills for the job. The sheriff invited other candidates, including Rogers, who had applied for a managerial position in the county chief executive office. He said Rogers was the only one with the ability to be business manager for the department.

Christianson said Rogers now earns $10 an hour above the top pay for the county job and would not accept an offer for a midrange salary. The sheriff had authority to start his pay in the middle of the salary range – about $91,000 a year – but needed board approval to offer top pay.

“I thought it was fair to start him at the top of the band,” Christianson said.

The business manager will oversee a six-member staff to handle finance, accounting, budgeting and office support for the department. The Sheriff’s Department has a $93 million annual budget.

According to a report, Rogers works for a business owned by his family. The report said he has nine years’ experience as a controller and finance manager and has worked with a $10.8 million budget. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from the University of the Pacific. Attempts to reach him for comment were not successful.

The Sheriff’s Department has been without a business manager since Dan Wirtz transferred to a job with county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services in September.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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