Officials with the Erath County Sheriff’s Office hope that a hike in starting pay for its patrol deputies will help the department recruit and retain qualified applicants.

The raise comes with the county’s $24 million budget which was approved by commissioners on Monday. The raise brings the starting pay for patrol deputies from $34,505 per year to $38,000.

“This will help tremendously in our efforts to recruit qualified applicants and retain them,” said Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw. “(Before the raise) they could go down the street and make $8,000 to $10,000 more per year at the Stephenville Police Department.”

The starting pay for a Stephenville police officer is $41,700. A second year officer makes $44,835.

Upshaw said it’s been several years since patrol deputies received an increase in starting pay. He said step raises are given annually for all county employees based on their evaluations. 

The sheriff’s office currently employs 22 deputies including Upshaw and Sheriff Tommy Bryant. 

“Everyone worked so hard to make sure these deputies got the raises they deserve and we couldn’t be happier,” Upshaw said. “We are grateful to all those county employees who worked on the budget to make this happen.”