Salary range increased to attract new chief
Former Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow was in a familiar place — sitting at the staff table during last week’s Town Council meeting — but this time he was acting in his role as Okanogan County Sheriff.
Budrow, who lives near Twisp, was on hand to talk about the town’s recently concluded agreement with the Sheriff’s Office to provide interim police coverage while the town seeks to rebuild its police force, which currently has no officers.
The town has been without a police chief since shortly after Budrow was elected county sheriff in November of last year.
The sheriff assured the council that his office will provide as much attention as possible and respond to calls, given his own staffing shortages and attempts to fill vacancies. “We’ll be here for you,” Budrow said,
As for the Twisp department, Budrow said that “we’re going to help to try to rebuild it, back to where it was.”
To that end, the council agreed at last week’s meeting to significantly improve the town’s pay scale for the police chief position, in hopes of attracting candidates. So far, no one has applied for the chief’s job.
The new pay scale sets the salary range for the police chief at $80,080 to $97,760 annually (police officer wages were not changed). The town is also offering a $10,000 relocation stipend.
“We’ve had zero success at the current pay range,” council member Hans Smith noted.
Budrow was paid $84,344 annually at the time of his departure. Outgoing Winthrop Town Marshal Doug Johnson, who recently announced his retirement, is making $86,271 annually.
Twisp Town Clerk Randy Kilmer said he surveyed pay scales at comparably sized police departments around the state “to make sure we are competitive with other towns.”
The council has discussed using money saved from not paying police officers to help boost the departmental salaries, and to also getting by with two officers rather than three until the town identifies how to fund a full complement.
At a special meeting on May 3, the council approved the police services contract with the county that is in effect through the end of this year, and which calls for the town to pay the county $500 per call response. If the town chooses to engage deputies for other assignments such as parades, they will be paid separately at overtime rates.
Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said that, based on a recent average of about 32 calls for police assistance in a month, the contract will cost the town about $16,000 per month. The contract does not include animal control or parking regulation enforcement.
It became necessary for the town to make temporary arrangements for law enforcement coverage when the last of its three police officers, Interim Chief Ty Sheehan, resigned. His patrol shifts ended on April 27, although he will be on the town payroll through the end of May because of accumulated vacation time. His resignation was officially accepted at an executive session of the Town Council on May 2. Earlier, officer Stephen Purtell resigned effective April 20.
911 for emergencies only
The Town of Twisp and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office have a request: during the interim arrangement under which the sheriff’s office is proving police coverage for the town, please do not call 911 for anything other than a real emergency — and do not call the sheriff directly as he will not be able to respond. Instead, call the sheriff’s office at (509) 422-7200.