For several commissioners, it’s what should be the first order of business when it comes to the 2019 budget.
“The Sheriff is probably right now number one priority,” said Commissioner John Clarke, “we are a growing community and we need our police to take care of a growing community, we’re trying to grow downtown Augusta we need police in downtown Augusta,” said the new Commissioner.
The sheriff’s requesting $680 thousand dollars to increase salaries, and boost starting salaries, for deputies.
However the request didn’t make the cut in the administrators initial recommendations, even after commissioners said last year they would review sheriff pay raises in the 2019
An issue come commissioners consider critical.
“We’re steadily losing our officers to other counties, other communities, because we’re not paying them enough. Number one, the Sheriff needs the resources we had promised last year and we came back this year,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.
The administrator proposed last week providing the sheriff with half of the request beginning in July but commissioners expressed support for more money for the sheriff’s office.
“The Sheriff’s Office is an important agency in our community and we want our people safe and a happy paid individual is a happy worker,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.
This afternoon commissioners approved the 2019 budget that fully restores the sheriff’s office request, it also calls for all employees to get costs of living increases starting in January instead of waiting until July to cover those costs.
The 52 new positions the budget was calling for will be put off until July instead of staring in the first of the year.