WALLA WALLA — A legal roadblock will force Walla Walla County commissioners to readdress a proposed reorganization of appointed officers in the Sheriff’s Office.
Commissioners will hold a special meeting Friday regarding a motion they approved this week to delegate authority to Sheriff John Turner to set salaries in his office for five appointed positions.
The meeting will be at 8 a.m. in the commissioner’s chambers at the county Public Health and Legislative Building, 314 W. Main St.
The motion by Commissioner Greg Tompkins was to allow Turner to set salaries for five appointed positions in his office “as he sees fit.”
The positions are for chief operations deputy, chief administrative deputy, chief corrections deputy, administrative assistant and administrative secretary.
However, Commission Chairman Jim Johnson said today a review of the motion by the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office turned up a problem.
“It appears as though the motion does not conform to the RCW (Revised Code of Washington),” Johnson said.
According to state law, it is not within the power of the Sheriff’s Office to set salaries; that must be done by county commissioners, he said.
Because he is not going to be at the commissioners’ regular meeting next week, a special meeting had to be set Friday to get the matter settled, Johnson said.
The reorganization proposed by Turner will leave the undersheriff’s position vacant and instead use the salary for the post to increase the salary of Chief Administrative Deputy Shanda Zessin from about $66,900 a year to $80,669, add the position of administrative secretary and increase the hours for an administrative assistant position.
Johnson said if the proposed reorganization plan and salaries are reaffirmed by commissioners at Friday’s meeting, it should not affect their direction to county Auditor Karen Martin to prepare a budget amendment to reduce the sheriff’s budget by $13,200, the amount Turner said his proposed reorganization would save in salaries.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.