Missoula County OKs $4 million bond for sheriff deputy lawsuit

Bret Anne Serbin

The Missoula County commissioners authorized a general obligation bond of approximately $4 million Tuesday morning to cover the costs of unpaid sheriff’s deputy wages.

The commissioners settled a lawsuit in early June centered on three years of unpaid wages owed to Missoula County Sheriff deputies because of the county’s failure to calculate the sheriff’s parity pay and certification pay in the deputies’ wages.

The county originally settled the lawsuit for $3.45 million, but additional costs have piled up around the deputies’ benefits.

An additional approximately $400,000 will also come out of the county risk fund to cover interest on the wage claims.

For Missoula County residents, the 5-year bond will result in a payment of $2.83 per $100,000 of taxable value in the bond’s first year, followed by $3.18 per $100,000 for the next four years.

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According to Erica Grinde, Missoula County director of risk management and benefits, the discrepancy in the deputies’ wages “stemmed from some unclear state statutes.”

The state passed new legislation in 2021 requiring parity and certification pay to be included in deputies’ wages. Missoula County failed to include those wages in the

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