Lexington approves hefty pay raise for Fayette County Detention Center employees

City set aside over $26 Million from surplus funds to address high vacancy rates, improve recruitment and retention

Lexington, Ky. – The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council approved a significant pay raise for employees at the Fayette County Detention Center on Tuesday, in an effort to retain and attract more workers to the jail which has struggled with high vacancy rates for years. The move is part of a larger pay increase for public safety employees, aimed at making salaries more competitive in the job market.

Under the modified contract with Fraternal Order of Police Town Branch Lodge 83, which represents corrections employees, corrections officers will see a base pay increase of $7,500, in addition to pay raises that were part of the original two-year contract approved in February 2022. The increase brings the starting pay for corrections officers to over $50,000 per year.

In addition to the pay raise for corrections officers, police officers and sergeants saw an average pay increase of $8,000 per year, while police lieutenants received a $5,000 raise. Firefighters, lieutenants, and captains in the fire department received a $5,500 per year raise. The city set aside over $26 million from surplus funds to pay for the raises in the next year, but will have to find more money in the coming years to sustain them.

Mayor Linda Gorton emphasized the importance of quality and well-trained employees in ensuring the safety of the city, stating, “Like other cities across the country, Lexington has had a problem attracting recruits and retaining officers, especially in police and corrections. 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.”

The Fayette County Detention Center has been struggling with high vacancies for years, and the number of vacancies skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement with the union also includes 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.

The raises, which cost an estimated $17 million per year, were not just limited to public safety employees. City workers outside of public safety received a 3% raise in January.

Image: Google Earth view of Fayette County Detention Center on Old Frankfort Pike.