KINGSVILLE, TX – Some billboards in Kingsville are drawing confusion and controversy.
Turns out, what some think is an inappropriate recruiting technique, is actually an attempt to get Kleberg County Sheriff’s Deputies and jailers a raise.
One of the billboards is right outside the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office.
It advertises that Nueces County is hiring certified jailers and patrol officers at $14.95 per hour.
Kleberg deputies get hired at $11.85.
The Nueces County Sheriff’s Officers Association put the signs up, and while they appear to be recruitment tools, the association says they’re simply a show of support as Kleberg’s deputies fight for a raise.
It’s easy to understand why some think the billboards are meant to recruit deputies to Nueces County. There’s a phone number for the Nueces County recruiting officer on the bottom.
Jose Gonzalez is president of the Nueces County Sheriff’s Officers Association.
“The intent of it (the billboards) is just to help our brothers out in Kleberg, and you know, get them to get better wages out there too,” he says.
To be fair, the signs, at least as they’re written, are directed at the Kleberg County Commissioners Court.
Ernesto Flores is president of the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Officers Association. He says they’d like to get that $11.85 per hour starting wage to $12.85 per hour.
“Our big deal right now is retention, trying to retain people. We’ve already lost another deputy last week to another agency for higher pay,” Flores says.
Getting that raise will be an uphill fight. Kleberg County Commissioner David Rosse says there is just not enough money.
“We’re still over $400,000 deficit right now… I’m not saying they (deputies) don’t deserve more. I wouldn’t want to put my life on the line, and I just, if you don’t have it (the money), you don’t have it,” he says.
The union and the county will continue to negotiate over the next year. Any changes to the collective bargaining agreement would take effect NEXT October.