BCC to consider sheriff's office budget increase Tuesday

CCSO wants $10.2 million increase to keep pace with growth

Wesley LeBlanc, Staff Writer
Posted 7/22/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels stood before the Board of County Commissioners last Tuesday and explained why his budget calls for an increase of $10.2 million.

The board …

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BCC to consider sheriff's office budget increase Tuesday

CCSO wants $10.2 million increase to keep pace with growth

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels stood before the Board of County Commissioners last Tuesday and explained why his budget calls for an increase of $10.2 million.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal on Tuesday.

The BCC failed to act on Daniels’ original request last month, citing a lack of information and explanation for the increase that wouldn’t be possible without an increase in the county millage rate.

Daniels returned with more details last week. And he firmly defended his numbers.

“We didn’t press 10 years of resources into one year,” Daniels said. “I know it might seem like it, but we didn’t. We submit to the BCC what’s required by law. If the BCC asks for additional information, we give them what they want. They requested additional information, and this is what that looks like.”

Daniels used a PowerPoint presentation to breakdown what he called an enhancement to the CCSO budget. If approved, the budget for 2019-20 would be $68,212,797. According to Daniels, that’s still not enough to get the deputies and employees he wants.

By 2020, Daniels said Clay County’s projected population will be 206,717, with that number rising to 228,580 in 2025 and 248,824 in 2030.

“That growth in the county means there will be an increased need of resources and services from public safety,” Daniels said. “We’re projecting that they’ll go up [as the population goes up].”

If approved, Daniels will be able to hire 25 additional officers, which will take the total count of CCSO officers from 296 to 321 – which will improve the county’s officer-to-citizen ratio at 1.55, which is still below the state average of 1.72, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement figures.

“We want to be at that 1.72,” Daniels said.

While he said he’d prefer a single $10.2 million jump, he understood the county’s finances will likely require him to spread the increases over several years. To keep pace with the county’s growth, Daniels wants to hire an additional 15 officers each year after 2020 until 2023. After that, he wants 14 new officers each year through 2025.

If everything happens according to Daniels’ plan, by 2025, CCSO would have 394 officers employed and an officer-to-citizen ratio equal to that of the state average.

Beyond budget, Daniels said CCSO has a hard time retaining employees due to the department’s starting salary.

“[CCSO] is at the bottom of the rung in starting salaries with those we most compare to,” Daniels said. “We start at only $38,000 here.”

Daniels said the starting salary is identical to the neighboring Orange Park Police Department, but that after one year at OPPD, an officer’s salary moves up to roughly $42,000. CCSO officers don’t get that big of a raise, according to Daniels.

“We’re pretty much the lowest paid law enforcement in the county and the employees know that,” Daniels said. “I don’t think I can compete with the salaries of these other agencies.”

Each time CCSO loses an officer – like the five who recently went to the school board police department, CCSO has to pay roughly $62,0000.

“If I lose a deputy, it’s costing $62,000 roughly to train someone else,” Daniels said. “That’s the cost of the trainee and the trainer and the hours put in to train. The problem is that we train them, and they go on to better horizons. It’s totally economical. People have got to put food on the table.”

The BCC didn’t formally create a motion following Daniels’ presentation, but they did discuss their next steps.

They first requested was for county auditor Mike Price to determine what the county’s revenue streams for 2019-20 so they’ll know how much they’ll have throughout the year.

Commissioner Diane Hutchings said she’s not a fan of the sheriff’s budget as it will require the BCC to raise the millage.

“I’m not a big fan of setting the millage higher when property values have gone up so much,” Hutchings said.

BCC Chairman Mike Cella agreed but explained that if the millage isn’t raised, something in the county will see cuts.

“Nobody is a fan of it but if we do not set the millage higher than it is, we’re going to be working within the framework we already have,” Cella said. “So, at that point, we’d have a choice to cut somewhere or not fund something else as much as it needs to be funded.”

The BCC will make a formal decision during their meeting on Tuesday, which starts at 4 p.m.

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