Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly travelled to Springfield on Thursday to witness the signing of House Bill 2224 by Gov. Matt Blunt.
Missouri's newest law mandates that salaries for sheriff's deputies be set at a minimum of $28,000. It is a law that Sheriff Epperly and other members of the Missouri Sheriff's Association have been working hard to make sure got passed.
"We think this is a very positive thing for our deputies and for deputies all around the state," said Sheriff Epperly.
Based on the new law, Barry County deputies will see their salaries increase from $22,000 to $28,000 a year. The salary boost will be funded through a $10 increase in the civil service process fee. That service will now cost $30 rather than $20.
"This will be paid for through civil process, not general revenue, so this will not affect our taxes," said Epperly. "Ten dollars will be added to the cost of every paper served."
Currently, the state average salary paid to a sheriff's deputy stands at $22,262. There are 91 counties in the state, including Barry, whose deputies are paid below the new minimum set forth by HB2224.
Sheriff Epperly said the ability to pay his deputies more will allow his department to better serve the citizens of Barry County.
"We'll no longer be a training ground for other departments," said Sheriff Epperly. "We should be able to keep our deputies here because they'll be getting a salary they can live on.
"I'm not criticizing the (Barry County) Commission, because we understand they have budgets to work under," said Epperly. "But we are glad this was passed at the state level."
It is estimated that the $10 increase in the cost of delivering court summons and subpoenas would generate $4 to $6 million annually. The funding will be distributed through the Missouri Sheriff's Methamphetamine Relief Taskforce.
"This legislation will help ensure they're more appropriately compensated for the important and sometimes dangerous work that they do for the people of our state," said Blunt, who signed House Bill 2244 at the Greene County Sheriff's Department.