PORT ANGELES — A Clallam County commissioners’ work session discussion intended to focus on a shortage of deputy prosecuting attorneys instead took a broader focus to include other county positions.
Commissioner Mark Ozias wrote in an email Monday that the three commissioners asked their administrative team to come back with a proposal for hiring and retention incentives for deputy prosecutors, public works engineers and public health nurses.
“Once we better understand the scope of these additional bonuses and incentives, the commissioners will have a follow-up discussion to set priorities and allocate dollars,” he wrote.
County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols told the commissioners that the county’s efforts to attract and retain deputy prosecuting attorneys over the last year or two have proven to be largely ineffective, which is why he was requesting consideration of using federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars for hiring and retention incentives. Four of 13 deputy prosecuting attorney positions are vacant.
Nichols wrote that he had discussed the hiring incentives concept with county human resources officials, who expressed their support while noting the county has similar hiring and retention challenges with public health nurses and engineers.
As a result, the commissioners asked the human resources department to study what positions could benefit from hiring and retention incentives and come back with a proposal soon.
Last September, the commissioners approved spending up to $600,000 for hiring and retention bonuses for corrections and patrol deputies after then-Sheriff Bill Benedict said he was short nine positions or 30 percent of his staff.
The commissioners agreed to provide a patrol deputy who is a lateral hire, either moving over to corrections or from another agency with the same qualifications, with a $25,000 bonus payable in three annual installments and an entry-level hire with a $10,000 bonus. Both hires would receive a $2,500 referral bonus.
The retention bonus for corrections deputies were to be $8,500. Patrol sergeants were to be $10,000 retention bonuses because those salaries are 15 percent higher.
They were required to have satisfactory evaluations and not be on a performance improvement plan. The first payment would be after completing the probation period, with the second and third payments payable after the second and third years.
The patrol sergeants, corrections sergeants and corrections officers would get the retention bonuses, but the patrol deputies would not because that bargaining unit wouldn’t agree to spreading the bonuses over three years instead of two.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.