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Halifax County commissioners today said in a press release they are willing to give up 100 percent of their salaries for the upcoming fiscal year if Sheriff Wes Tripp will give up 50 percent of his for the same time period in order to give all deputies an additional one-time bonus.

In turn, the statement says, “Going forward, the board of commissioners has plans for additional compensation for all county employees.”

The statement comes following a meeting last week in which Tripp discussed the state of starting salaries during a public hearing on the upcoming fiscal year budget.

Board Chair Vernon Bryant this afternoon said, when asked what prompted the press release, “I’m going to leave it right now as it is.”

The press release lists the annual pay of commissioners as well as the annual pay of the sheriff, along with the salaries of sheriffs in surrounding counties.

“Sheriff Wes Tripp’s annual salary is $99,315,” the statement says. “Sheriff Tripp is the highest paid elected county official in Halifax County and has a higher salary than many surrounding county sheriffs.”

Tripp this afternoon said, “In 1984, when I started as a jailer, my salary was $9,600 a year. July 1 I will have a total of 35 years. I’m not going to contradict their figures on me being the highest paid elected official. My comment on the quotes of surrounding sheriffs still does not address my initial complaint that their starting salaries are still higher than Halifax County deputies. A one-time bonus is very insulting.”

Tripp said he would not give up half of his salary. “Unlike commissioners I’m not retired or I don’t own my own business, so certainly I will not give up 50 percent of my salary but I will continue to fight for what is right in the battle to raise deputies’ starting pay. In Mr. Bryant’s statement commissioners are willing to give 100 percent of their salaries. Does that include their retirement salaries?”

Asked whether he would support or recommend a tax increase to the board to get salaries of all employees in line with other areas, the sheriff said, “It’s up to the commissioners to figure out how to bring in revenue. The truth hurts.”

He also said he did not appreciate Bryant in the statement “making deputies out to be pawns because they are the backbone of the department who go out daily risking their lives for the public safety of all citizens of Halifax County. Shame on you, Mr. Bryant.”

Tripp noted Bryant is retired from the state while Rives Manning “is financially stable.”

He said Carolyn Johnson and Linda Brewer are retired. Commissioner Patrick Qualls owns his own business and Marcelle Smith is employed with the state. “I’m very thankful for my salary but it took me 35 years of working to get where I’m at.”

Asked what he believed prompted the statement, Tripp said, “The only thing I can think of is some were not appreciative of me standing up for all county employees. What I have stated in the past is the truth and I feel in a way they’re telling me to shut the hell up.”

Bryant as chair of the board makes $10,250 a year while the rest make $8,815.

The sheriff’s pay in Northampton is $88,481; Warren County $82,419; Edgecombe County $88,366; Bertie County $82,620; Hertford County $82,345; and Martin County $77,000.