If the union representing Dane County sheriff’s deputies and Dane County do not reach a contract agreement by the end of the year, 21 deputies will be laid off.

All Dane County deputies — more than 400 — received a letter Tuesday that updated them on the current salary offer from Dane County.

The offer includes a 3 percent pay cut for 2010 in exchange for eight additional days off for three years and an agreement of no layoffs in 2010, as well as additional vacation hours, according to the letter.

This offer is one part of a larger Dane County effort to curb the effects of the economic downturn. According to a memo from Dane County sent to the Board of Supervisors, 80 percent of Dane County’s workforce has voluntarily entered into this agreement.

The bargaining unit representing the deputies and Dane County held five meetings for negotiations since the end of September, but they have not yet reached an agreement. If the deputies do not accept the pay cuts Dane County will obtain the savings by laying off 21 deputies, effective Dec. 31, according to the memo.

The proposal met stiff resistance from the sheriff deputies’ union, according to the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

Executive Director of WPPA James Palmer said the union is disappointed with the offer, as the deputies previously agreed to a 5 percent pay cut for the remainder of 2009 under the guise it was a one time occasion.

In addition, Palmer said, the deputies reduced their overtime of their own accord to help with savings — an action neither Dane County nor the Sheriff mandated. The union is not interested in bailing out the county’s bad budgeting practices, a problem the deputies did not create, he added.

“From a Wisconsin standpoint, you would be hard pressed to find another unit that has given more,” Palmer said.

Spokesperson for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Joshua Wescott, said the offer is essentially the same offered to all other Dane County employees, and the sheriff’s deputies’ union is not being asked to do anything differently than the other employees. He said he hopes the union will take the offer to the deputies to hear their opinion.

Wescott reiterated the budget is themed “shared sacrifice,” and measures need to be taken to address the economic hardships facing Dane County.

Dane County Chief Deputy Ron Boylan said no concrete plans are in place to negotiate the potential loss of 21 deputies. As negotiations are ongoing, he said he is hopeful an agreement between the County and union can be reached.

If the county goes forward with the layoffs, the least senior deputies — mostly the ones operating the jail — will likely be cut, Boylan said.

“We feel that every one of these positions is very valuable in our operation … for the community and for the safe operation of the jail,” Boylan said.

Boylan said the upkeep of the jail is important, as it is one of the constitutional charges of the Sheriff.

He added one option given the possible scenario of the layoffs would be to move assigned staff around or use overtime pay to cover the positions.