Lexington jail officers get huge pay bump to attract, retain employees

The Lexington council on Tuesday approved a hefty pay raise for Fayette County Detention Center employees, a move designed to keep and attract more employees to the jail that has struggled with high vacancy rates for years.

Under a modification to the contract with Fraternal Order of Police Town Branch Lodge 83, which represents corrections employees, corrections officers will see base pay increase by $7,500, according to Lexington officials.

That’s in addition to pay increases that were originally negotiated as part of the two-year contract that was originally approved in February 2022.

The increase brings corrections starting pay to more than $50,000 a year. The union also agreed to limited rehiring of part-time corrections employees, allowing supervisory staff to fill overtime slots and allowing lateral hires from other corrections facilities to receive starting pay based on experience, according to a summary provided by the city.

The Old Frankfort Road facility has struggled with high vacancies for years. During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of vacancies sky-rocketed.

The detention center employee pay raises are part of a larger round of pay hikes for public safety employees.

Pay for police officers and sergeants also increased by an average of $8,000 a year. Police lieutenants received a $5,000 raise. That’s on top of several other wage hikes or one-time pay supplements over the past two years.

Firefighters, lieutenants and captains in the fire department received a $5,500 a year raise.

The city has set aside more than $26 million from surplus funds to help pay for the raises in the next year. However, the city will have to find money in the next few years to pay for those pay hikes.

“Like other cities across the country, Lexington has had a problem attracting recruits and retaining officers, especially in police and corrections,” said Mayor Linda Gorton. “Keeping our city safe is my top priority, and that means we need quality, well-trained employees. Safety is essential. It is the foundation of our city’s quality of life.”