THE HUNTER REPORT
Five new cruisers parked at Justice Center, this fiscal year
Sheriff's Request 15 New Cars and a Whole Lot More...
Spending Increases - 11% Public Safety & 6% Jail Budget
By: Pat Hunter
Budget Committee members shared concern about Sheriff Tim Guider's proposed budget. Sheriff Guider and former assistant chief deputy Jimmy Davis met with the Budget Committee on April 1 to discuss the Sheriff's budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 08-09. April Fools Day is set aside to bamboozle the gullible but this budget didn't seem to fool anyone.
First topic of discussion was salaries. Pay includes 43 hours of regular pay for deputies before overtime is calculated and overtime pay ran about 10%. It was discussed that state employees would receive a 2% pay increase while the Sheriff request was for a 3% pay increase. Employee insurance will increase this year. Loudon County taxpayers pay 90-91% of employee insurance benefits while state government employees receive 80% insurance benefits.
Sheriff Guider explained how he had hired a person with "unprecedented" credentials with about $18-20K worth of training in forensics. The employee is currently assigned as a School Resource Officer (SRO) at the Philadelphia and Steekee schools. Now, the Sheriff is requesting that the Budget Committee approve the SRO to full-time investigator position with pay commensurate to the job classification of forensics investigator for a proposed Crime Scenes Unit. He invited the Budget Committee to see firsthand the office with cameras and other equipment.
Comments were made that commissioners approved another investigator for the Sheriff's Dept., which was hired in Dec. 2006. This was followed by the Sheriff's hiring of the SRO, one month later in Jan. 2007.
Commissioner Bob Franke wanted to know why a highly trained officer was working as a SRO. The Sheriff response, ...We had, needed somewhere to plug him in.
Commissioner Nancy Marcus asked, if you create a new position for this person because of his credentials and keep your investigators, are you going to need more new people to replace the SRO? First, the Sheriff replied yes, then changed his answer that he would utilize present personnel. The Sheriff suggested renegotiating the agreement with the schools because little money came from the schools.
Currently, there are 4 investigators and if approved this would bring the total to 5 investigators. The dept. is averaging 40 cases per investigator. The new Crime Scene Unit investigator would be paid between $45,000 - $46,000 with a 3% increase factored into the proposed salary within the first year. Mayor Doyle Arp seemed surprised to learn that the salary for the SRO officer was $37,000. The Sheriff was quick to add that the SRO officer was a certified officer.
Sheriff Guider also requested additional pay for his new secretary. The Sheriff's former secretary pay was about $29,000 but the employee taking her place was previously paid $32,000 working in the records dept. The Sheriff would now like for her to maintain her previous salary and he is asking for an increase of $3000 est. According to Guider she would be assigned other duties in addition to being his secretary.
Comments were made how the Sheriff's department is quite large with a bottom line increase of over 11% with the public safety dept. The Jail budget will also increase by 6%. While the school budget is still larger, the Sheriff's Department is one of the largest growing county budgets; this year's increase alone is between $450,000 - $500,000.
Sheriff Guider also requested 15 new police cruisers, at an estimated cost of $27,000 each for a grand total of $405,000. Fuel and insurance for the vehicles will be an additional cost. Sixteen cars have over 150,000 miles. Two police cruisers were wrecked and declared a total loss.
Mayor Arp, Budget Committee Chairman, asked Sheriff Guider if he had considered buying new engines to retrofit the police cruisers as an alternative to just buying more new cars. Guider thought that it would be an interesting to find out. At least two Budget Committee members commented how they had replaced engines in existing personal vehicles.
Budget member Chris Park was concerned about the spiraling cost of fuel and wondered if the Sheriff was looking into purchasing police cruisers with better fuel mileage. This makes the second year that the topic of buying fuel efficient police vehicles has been discussed but to date no action has been taken. A Crown Victoria's fuel mileage is 14 miles per gallon, now multiply the current cost of fuel $3.16 per gal. times the number of police vehicles. The Sheriff' has budgeted $250,000 for fuel cost compared to the actual FY 06-07 budget fuel cost of $156,837; .
Mayor Arp requested that Leo Bradshaw, Purchasing and Maintenance Director, compile maintenance and mileage information on all vehicles because he was concerned about the cost of fuel. A memo from the mayor's office will be sent to elected officials about driving county vehicles.
The Sheriff was also asked about department personnel; the Sheriff's dept has about 68 employees and 54 cars. There was also discussion about the possibility of hiring additional personnel to operate security equipment at the Courthouse and Justice Center.
Commissioner Nancy Marcus suggested that he get 8 new cruisers instead of 15 cars but no action was taken by the Budget Committee until additional information can be furnished. Commissioner Don Miller commented that schools would require funding as well in this budget cycle. The final recommendations on the Sheriff Budget will be submitted later.
Commission approved five (5) new police cars in the FY 2008-2009 budget.
DRAFT Public Safety and Jail budgets.