JUNEAU — After the first year as a Dodge County correctional officer, that staffer will be $4,000 richer and that doesn’t include the additional $2,000 the person will receive after completing two years of employment there.

That was the action approved Friday at the Dodge County Judicial and Public Protection committee. It does not need county board approval.

“We’re really, really struggling to find people to work as correctional officers,” said Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt Friday. “Plus, the younger generation does not want to work nights or weekends, which puts us in a bind at the jail. We need more correctional officers.”

Schmidt’s comments came on the heels of last week’s Dodge County Finance Committee meeting, when it was learned Clearview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Director Ed Somers is offering a $6,000 hiring incentive for second- and third-shift, full-time certified nursing assistants.

He said the $6,000 would be paid over two years, and if the employee should leave before their two-year term commitment is up, the money would be repaid back to Clearview.

Somers also said a $1,000 retention incentive is being paid to Clearview staff members.

Schmidt said the two entities need to be consistent in what they offer potential new employers. He said Dodge County’s Human Resources and Labor Negotiations Committee approved the sign-on bonus for his new hires so he wanted to bring it to the Judicial and Public Protection Committee Friday for their approval, too.

But it didn’t go as smoothly as Schmidt planned.

County supervisor David Guckenberger of Ashippun, who sits on the Judicial and Public Protection Committee, asked if the newly approved paid time off policy would work as an incentive.

The policy states that any new employee hired after Jan. 1 will receive four weeks and two days of vacation and 10 paid holidays.

The decision to have the new policy came after the county’s human resources and labor negotiations committee members received feedback through employee exit interviews, which highlighted one of the primary reasons for employee departure is the existing vacation schedule, flexibility and other earned benefits by Dodge County.

Schmidt disagreed.

“I’m in a real emergency here,” he said. “I don’t have enough correctional officers.”

He told Judicial and Public Protection committee members he’s down 14 correctional officers and the shortage has been difficult on his staff, who are filling overtime shifts.

He said the overtime has become so problematic he was “forced” to make the decision to temporarily close down one of the pods in the Dodge County Jail.

Schmidt said he is in competition to hire correctional officers with Dodge County prisons, which offers protective status for their correctional officers.

Protective status means the same type of retirement options and duty-incurred disability benefits that active police officers have.

“The state is below in (correctional officer) staffing, and wages continue to increase all around us,” Schmidt said.

According to a job posting for a jail/corrections officer on the Dodge County website, the position pays between $21.61 and $23.85 an hour.

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