Sheriff's deputies in Ramsey County have been awarded a 10.3-percent pay hike over three years, after an arbitrator agreed that they've been slipping against their peers.

County officials had sought to keep their raises in line with those of other county workers. But arbitrator James Lundberg agreed to decouple them from the norm.

"There is compelling evidence that supports a wage award somewhat greater than [that] pattern," he wrote. "Wages for Ramsey County deputies dropped from a number one ranking within the seven county comparison area in 2004 to sixth position within the comparison group in 2014."

The award applies to the years 2015 to 2017, so the roughly 170 deputies will get some retroactive pay.

Most county bargaining units accepted wage bumps of 2 percent in 2015, 2.5 percent in 2016 and 2.6 percent in 2017.

County officials argued that Ramsey County has the highest property tax rates in the seven-county metro area, twice as high as Dakota County.

But the deputies' union noted that from 2008 to 2014 the wage disparity between St. Paul police officers and sheriff's deputies had widened from $308 to $713 per month — roughly $8,500 a year — and was threatening to grow to $777 per month.

David Peterson