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Sheriff’s Call For 5 Extra Deputies in Palm Coast Would Raise City’s Policing Cost 27% Since 2014

| July 11, 2017

Sheriff Rick Staly, toward the left, listened to Council member Bob Cuff after the sheriff's presentation to the council this morning, with Palm Coast Precinct Commander Mark Carman at his side and, toward the right, City Manager Jim Landon. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Rick Staly, toward the left, listened to Council member Bob Cuff after the sheriff’s presentation to the council this morning, with Palm Coast Precinct Commander Mark Carman at his side and, toward the right, City Manager Jim Landon.
(© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly this morning made his $550,000 pitch to the Palm Coast City Council for five additional deputies to add to the 23 uniformed deputies and supervisors the city is paying for. The full addition and a built-in annual increase in the overall contract cost would bring city taxpayers’ bill for policing to $3.3 million—a 27 percent increase since the last time the council approved a contract with the sheriff. That contract, still in effect today, was enacted in October 2014.


Absent the five additional deputies, the cost of the contract would be $2.8 million, a 6 percent increase over the 2014 contract, though that last contract provided for some incremental increases for the cost of deputies, so its cost has risen since.

Staly was making his pitch ahead of the council approving the first contract-renewal for policing on Staly’s watch. He had a receptive audience, though only Council member Steven Nobile said he’d support the full addition of five deputies. Other council members may want a more incremental approach, which even Staly is willing to work with, up to a point.

“I will work with you but I think the community would be best served for five,” Staly told the council, “or authorizing five and choosing how much you can afford for this next fiscal year.”

Whether incremental or full, the council will decide its approach at next Tuesday’s meeting.

The additional deputies would form a traffic unit focused almost exclusively on traffic issues at the city’s most crash-prone intersections. Three issues drive Straly’s request: First, there’s been a spike in fatal crashes and a doubling of crashes in Palm Coast between 2012 and 2015, to 1,730 in that single year. (The doubling coincided with the city’s splurge on more than three dozen red-light cameras, the last of which went dark, after relentless controversy, earlier this year. Studies have repeatedly linked red-light cameras to an increase in crashes. The city administration maintained for 10 years, against evidence, that cameras increased drivers’ safety.) Second, traffic issues are a leading complaint by residents. Third, in deputies’ ranks, “we’ve kind of been behind the curve because of the Great Recession,” Staly said, with the Sheriff’s Office not adding to its ranks in almost a decade even as traffic and population have increased. Crime nevertheless has remained flat.

The traffic unit will focus on traffic, but also respond to crime calls in its periphery. And it is not intended to replace the duties currently filled by the Florida Highway Patrol, among them traffic homicide investigations (in other words, investigations of crashes involving deaths).

“I still want that to stay with FHP,” Staly said. “I think we need to get our money’s worth out of the state, because they should be working many more crashes than they are, and if I start working more state responsibilities, then I’d probably have to double what I’m asking for, because traffic homicide takes so long to investigate.”

“I personally support the five deputies. I trust the sheriff has done his homework and he knows what he’s doing,” Nobile said. “We just have to look at how to pay for it.”

That was for City Manager Jim Landon to help clarify based on a contract update with the sheriff he prepared. Landon submitted that proposed contract renewal immediately after Staly’s presentation this morning. But the city manager’s presentation was vague and lacked analysis, and the numbers submitted to council members were without context, as was the proposed contract. (The lack of focus is likely not coincidental: Landon was just back from a two-week vacation in his RV, and facing growing dissatisfaction from council members, his future with the city is uncertain. He’s been privately discussing an exit strategy with some of the council members.)

Landon did not make previous years’ or current-year numbers available to the council. Only numbers projected for 2017-18 were included. Landon presented the finished product to the council for the first time today, for after-the-fact discussions (the council barely discussed it) ahead of the contract being presumably approved at next Tuesday’s meeting.

When a contract is updated in other governments, the version put forth for board discussion reflects every change, addition or deletion through red lines, strike-throughs or underlines. Not this one, though there were changes. Landon only referred to a few in his verbal presentation to the council. Some of the changes were more than the “tweaks” he referred to. Most notably, a jump in the amount by which the cost of the contract may increase every year. It is currently 3 percent. The new contract increases that to 5 percent. It would be in effect for three years and four months, through the end of January 2021.

The council had no say in the increase. Landon presented it as fact: “Five percent is reasonable in today’s world,” he said, then moved on, even though the recurring 5 percent increase could potentially directly affect whether and how the council might add the five new deputies to Palm Coast Streets: the difference between a 3 percent annual increase and a 5 percent increase is $56,000, or more than half the cost of a deputy’s position. Sticking with 3 percent increases over the next two years would make it easier for the city to afford absorbing the full cost of a deputy, thus potentially adding more deputies to streets quicker than if it were saddled with the full 5 percent annual increases and the pressure to add deputies.

That analysis might have been possible had Landon presented council members more complete numbers. But the proposed contract put before council members and made available to the public makes no reference to existing costs—only proposed costs for the 2017-18 fiscal year, thus preventing comparing numbers or putting them in context. The contractual figures only include a note that they reflect an additional 3.1 percent increase over previous years’ costs.

The contract that went in effect in October 2014 called for 16 deputies, two corporals, three sergeants, one commander and one school resource deputy on the city’s dime, for a total of $2.6 million.

Next year’s cost for the same ranks would amount to $2.8 million, according to the proposal. Each additional deputy costs $110,500. A deputy starts at closer to $43,000 a year, but between benefits, training, equipment and liability costs, the price of a uniformed deputy rises steeply. (It’s $140,000 for corporals, $153,600 for sergeants, $166,000 for the precinct commander, in this case, Mark Carman.)

The total cost with the five additional deputies would then be $3.34 million.

Staly after his portion of the meeting declared himself satisfied with the council’s direction. “The mayor and the council are very supportive of public safety and the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “Now there’s lots of competing demands and now they have to make the hard decisions, what they can fund for next year, not just for the Sheriff’s Office, but for the other requests coming in for the community.”

In the audience this morning was Nate McLaughlin, chairman of the Flagler County Commission. He was there like a scout in the stands at a revealing ballgame: Staly is asking for 10 additional deputies from the county commission, a $1 million request that has yet to play out at the county.

Sheriff’s Presentation to the Palm Coast City Council (2017)

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33 Responses for “Sheriff’s Call For 5 Extra Deputies in Palm Coast Would Raise City’s Policing Cost 27% Since 2014”

  1. fredrick says:

    Here we go again…. The Sherrif will say 3.3 million, the city will threaten to put in their own police for less money, the Sheriff will come done from his original number, the city will say “ok that’s better we can afford that”…

    Nothing to see here, move along people, move along….

  2. LawAbidingCitizen says:

    Not 1 mention of the outrageously understaffed jail Deputoes. Just goes to show that this admins view on jail Deputies safety is not a priority.

  3. Adam says:

    I hope the SO gets their five deputies and I think that Palm Coast has been getting away with paying a lot less than they should. Especially when compared to other contracts city management has with other sheriffs offices.

    However as far as the comments about the state, it’s hard to work something that we’re never made aware of or called to and it’s debatable on what a state responsibility is when it falls into services that are being paid for to the SO by the city.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Sheriffs office budget in 2016 was $ 21,340,960.oo. If Palm Coast is only paying 2.8 million in 2016 and 3.3 million proposed this year for policing the city that makes up the vast majority of Flagler County’s population, then we have a problem. This is definitely not fair at all to the rest of the property tax payers in the rest of the county. Why doesn’t the county commission let Palm coast field their own police force? The rest of the county’s taxpayers are paying too much money and they don’t need or want to be paying to provide police protection for Palm Coast, when you can hardly get a fast response by police in any other part of the county. This disparity needs to change, and right now!

  5. Mary says:

    I am new to the community and have been wondering why in the world we don’t have community policing. This city is more than big enough to support their own police force. Unfortunately Jim Landon’s exit from the city is a start in an effort to reform the “good ole’ boy” proliferation in the city government. I think they need to clean house and move this city into the 21st century. Restructuring the way the city does business is long overdue.Start with hiring a new city planner that is savvy and has a good grasp of just what this city needs and has knowledge of how to reach the needs of the citizenry. Patching and repatching an old useless tire, gets us nowhere. Time for change!!!

  6. Knightwatch says:

    You want safety and security, you pay for it.

  7. Liz says:

    I find it quite odd that Staly wants to form a traffic unit….. FCSO already has/had one. What does Mr.Staly think the unit that retired Sgt Mike Van Buren was in charge of?

  8. Robjr says:

    DO NOT, DO NOT form a police force in the small city. Taxes will go up and the only thing a police department’s budget will do is grow. It will grow more than the annual increase in the sheriff’s contract. And it will always grow through the politics of fear.

    The sheriff is the contractor, he doesn’t call for more deputies, it is the town council that determines the needs of the city.

  9. DRedder says:

    A. Community Policing is a PR job.
    B. The cost of PC having it’s own PD would be three times greater than the FCSO, and with rising costs for pensions and heathcare that cost would always increase. Perhaps you should in fact many uniformed residents should attend the PC Citizen’s Academy it’s free, and you would come away with a better understanding of how and why most things are done and operated in PC.

  10. Anonymous says:

    palm coast is afraid to have staley policing,because it will show the government how badly we need a police department….

  11. Hopeful says:

    I agree with Knightwatch….security isn’t free. I’d also like to see more neighborhood patrols. And if people stopped calling the Sheriff’s office to complain about their neighbors every five minutes it would free them up for more important things.

  12. r&r says:

    Somebody please wake up Landon.

  13. Big red says:

    It’s not rocket science not only hire more but give them raises so you can compete and get the best recruits .and continue to maintain and improve an efficient department count me in it’s probably less than .50 cents a person per week

  14. Shark says:

    More cops fro Florida Park Drive !!!!!!

  15. BOB S. says:

    THE WAY PEOPLE ARE DYING DUE TO TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS,RED LIGHT RUNNERS,SPEEDING. DON’TFOREGET THE HOME BREAKINS,CAR BREAKINS ALSO. I PESONALLY THINK THIS IS A NO BRAINER,FIVE IS NOT ENOUGH.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Knight watch, & Hopeful, You can have all of the police protection you want, but I don’t want to pay for it since I live outside of Palm Coast. Every other city in this county established and pays for its own Police force, Palm Coast should be made to do this as well. You folks wanted to be a grown up city now act like one and pay for your own police protection, I for one don’t want to pay for your police force.

  17. Gkimp says:

    Palm Coast starting its own police force was an option when the population was 40,000 and below, but the startup cost would be to high at this point it’s just cost prohibitive. Most cities this size have police forces of 85-100 sworn and 25-30 support personnel. The Sheriff can do it for way less because he already has the administrative staff and support personnel to administrate countywide. I support giving him 5 deputies, but I would hire an independent city employed police executive consultant to establish performance and quality control measures to make sure the City of Palm Coast is getting it’s money’s worth.

  18. jadobi says:

    From a veteran Police Officer…
    There is no need for Palm Coast to start its own police department. The more departments you have in one community (ie Flagler Co) the more redundancy you have. Crime doesn’t know City boundaries. Criminal don’t work in one jurisdiction. If you have multiple agencies working the same crimes and criminals, you have extreme redundancy. Now add that a police department needs a Chief and its own administration, supervisors and officers, police cars, firearms, uniforms, etc… very costly to start up. It already exists with the Sheriff’s Office. Another draw back of a municipal police department is it will fall prey to the City Manager and Commission’s agenda. Frequently adjoining agencies don’t necessarily work well with each other. Trust me on this, we don’t need our own PD, just staff the Sheriff’s Office accordingly.

  19. Anonymous says:

    jadobi, My point exactly, why are we in the rest of this county outside of Palm Coast paying for and furnishing you with a police department. We had to pay for all of your police start up costs as it is. With your line of reasoning, the United States should provide Canada and Mexico with our police, protection, welfare/ food stamp program for a nominal 10-15 percent fee. PAY FOR YOUR OWN DEPARTMENT!!!

  20. John says:

    I know this will stir up a lot but…. I am a Palm Coast resident. I pay city and county taxes. In my county taxes I am paying for all county fire and county sheriffs. In my city taxes I pay for a fire department.

    The Sheriffs department should go before the county and request the money and number of sheriffs required to meet the requirements for all county residents. Palm Coast is part of the county and one of the services the county provides is the sheriffs office. The sheriff should look at the county and each areas requirements based on population, crime, traffic etc, as they do for other areas of the county, and go to the county for his requirements for the department.

    If they think we need xyz, then tell that to the county commissioners. Not City counsel.

  21. wishful thinking says:

    You get more than enough of our tax dollars in unincorporated Flagler – almost 30% . Don’t spend my money where I don’t live and ignore us. There are so many unnecessary sitting vacant patrol cars we must have paid for sitting idle all the time at City Walk.
    If you can’t deal with what you spent hundreds of thousands to get elected to then just move to Palm Coast and set up your own separate police department.

  22. Just the truth says:

    Get rid of over price Landon and then the Sheriff can hire more officers and make PC saver. Please Landon hit the road.

  23. blondee says:

    Nothing to see here. A separate Palm Coast police department will only bring higher taxes and nothing more. Jacksonville doesn’t even have their own PD!

  24. Adam says:

    Jacksonville does have its own PD. The entire county is the same boundaries as their city limits. Jacksonville is the biggest city in America land wise. Ever wonder why it’s called the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office and they refer to themselves as officers? It’s not the Duval County Sheriffs Office and they’re not deputies.

  25. jadobi says:

    Adam, point is JSO is a metro-police agency. The point blondee was making is there is one agency covering most of the county. There is no “us vs them” referring to Palm Coast residents and unincorporated area residents. Everyone pays taxes for police. The both sides benefit from the other. There are more deputies. If Palm Coast had its own force, the Sheriffs Office would be smaller. No one receives reduced services.

  26. Just me says:

    The sheriffs office does not need another traffic unit. What they need is more deputies to work the area and handle all of the domestic issues, drugs, and burglaries.

  27. A tiny manatee says:

    Does this include enough money to make some more dead end roads off of seminole for them to hang out in most of the day?

  28. JasonB says:

    Pensions and healthcare? They need to do what every business is doing, make their jobs part time and pay them minimum wage, no benefits needed, Problem solved.

  29. Mark101 says:

    We pay for safety. We can just let the crime run rampant with what we have or put more Leo’s out there. This little county is growing, we need more officers to answer the calls. All for it

  30. wryan says:

    When I see jobs(calls from dispatch) I see multiple cars respond to the scene. Maybe that’s because it’s a one man unit. But there is a redundancy to have so many units at a scene for an aided case or non violent call. As for traffic units, stats proof that the request is excess. Generally traffic units aren’t for traffic safety but for revenue. And the city of Palm Coast pay a great deal more taxes than the rest of Flagler. It is bogus to say other wise. If it’s about having more… then say that and not use false reasons.

  31. thomas says:

    Quit the charade that the Council is frugal with taxpayers money. APPROVE IT.

  32. Anyone says:

    There’s already enough misguided police in Palm Coast. The police department is ineffective and officers don’t stay long enough or follow-up on reports criminals know this and keep committing crimes. The only thing the police department needs is an effective liason for people who have filed complaints

  33. John says:

    The city shouldn’t approve anything. The Sheriff dept should be paid for 100% by the county. If Palm Coast requires more police, the county should approve it. as a resident of palm cost, I pay for police for the rest of the county too as well as fire services. That’s like Palm Coast paying for police in the schools. Why, The Sheriff should pay for that. Why are we picking and choosing. The county should handle all of the Sheriffs budget. The county taxes we all pay should pay for any and all Sheriff services no matter where you live or what coverage is required. PERIOD.

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