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Flagler Sheriff’s Budget For 2018-19 Would Go Up $3.8 Million, Largest In Over a Decade

| June 4, 2018

Sheriff Rick Staly and deputies at a crash scene on U.S. 1 on May 24. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Rick Staly and deputies at a crash scene on U.S. 1 on May 24. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Sheriff’s budget would increase 13.7 percent next year, or $3.8 million, the largest increase in at least a decade.

The increase reflects the second year running of a surge in the total number of deputies, with salaries and benefits accounting for $2 million of the cost increase. Between 2018 and 2019, the sheriff’s uniformed ranks will have increased by 22.

For 2018, Palm Coast, which contracts with the sheriff for policing services, approved the addition of five deputies. The county approved 10 more.

The surge next year is driven by a state law requiring increased police presence in schools. So almost $1 million of the sheriff’s increase is offset by revenue he will receive from the school district and from Palm Coast to pay for about half the cost of the 14 deputies and supervisors slated to be in the district’s 10 public schools (including Imagine School at Town Center, a charter school). Seven new deputies are being hired to account for the doubling of deputies in schools. Palm Coast is paying about $100,000 of that cost, the school district about $850,000.

Deducting that sum, the increase to the Flagler County Commission’s general fund is $2.9 million, or 12 percent–still the largest increase in at least a decade. (See the details in the document embedded below the article.)

Operating supplies account for nearly $300,000 of the increase, computer equipment, $200,000, and the sheriff’s contingency fund will take another $200,000. The sheriff’s debt payments are increasing $351,000, to $629,000, a reflection of a lease-purchase program for new patrol vehicles (the vehicles are leased for four years, then owned by the agency.)

Deputies are set for a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and a 2 percent raise on the anniversary day of their hire. The raises are important, Staly said, because every agency in the state is competing for new deputies to meet the new state law’s requirement of cops in schools. “This is an investment on retaining people when I’ve got everyone trying to steal them from me,” Staly said.

The agency is also seeing growth in calls for service even as the crime rate falls in the county:
48,000 calls of service so far this year, with an expected increase of about 7,000 calls over 2017. Bookings at the county jail are expected to go just above 3,000, up from 2,800 last year. The capacity of the jail is 404. It’s averaging 202 inmates per night (though Sunday night it was 238). Most of those are awaiting trial, some have been sentenced to jail terms of less than 365 days. Those who are sentenced to longer term are sent to state prison.

Last year the commission approved 10 new deputies for road patrol and six civilian closed-circuit television operators at the jail, which allowed the agency to free up six detention deputies previously employed as CCTV operators. The deputies now carry out duties more directly involving inmates. In effect, the switch allowed for a substantial increase in personnel at the jail, but without incurring the cost associated with new deputies, since civilian employees have much lower training and equipment costs.

“For our citizens we are very efficient in doing a good job,” given the $208 per-capita cost of the sheriff’s operations, a relatively low number compared to other jurisdictions, or $52 a month for a family of three. Staly compared it to the cost of a cheap diner’s meal for a family.

The contract with the school district affects the bottom line, but even as that bottom line increases, the proportionate burden on the sheriff’s budget is lightened: currently, Staly said, he pays 61.6 percent of the school resource deputies’ costs. The new contract brings that ratio down to below 50 percent. “We have done everything we can to negotiate a fair contract between all parties,” including Palm Coast and the school district,’ he said. “It wasn’t without some pain, but I think this is fair.” Staly said the county is not required to provide that support to the school district, school safety being a district responsibility.

“We’re being good citizens,” Commission Chairman Greg Hansen said. But it would also be politically hazardous for the county not to share the cost.

The sheriff’s budget presentation took place well into afternoon in the context of the second workshop of the day and the county commission’s third meeting of the day. The commission held a regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. It then held a special workshop at 1 p.m., again with the sheriff at center stage, to discuss the brewing controversy surrounding the Sheriff’s Operations Center, which may or may not be a sick building: evidence in the form of more than two dozen employees presenting various health issues, some of them severe, strongly suggests that it is. The sheriff’s budget does not include any costs related to whatever contingencies may be ahead regarding the building. That’s a county responsibility. But that workshop shed little light on what’s ahead, other than a repeat of what the county has already done: more testing.

The third meeting was a previously scheduled budget workshop focused on constitutional officers–the property appraiser, the tax collector and the sheriff. The clerk of court and the elections supervisor will appear at a future workshop. Constitutional officers are independent and elected by voters at large. But they must submit their budget to the county commission and seek its approval. It is generally a formality, but the commission still serves as a check on spending.

Today, commissioners, perhaps wearied by the long day, hardly had any questions for the constitutional officers.

Jay Gardner, the property appraiser, gave commissioners an overview of the new tax valuations. The numbers were first published here last week. Valuations are up 7.5 percent in Flagler County. That means if commissioners don’t change the property tax rate, county government revenue will increase $4.4 million, which would ease the pressure on the various county budgets. But according to state law, if commissioners don’t touch the tax rate but end up taking in more revenue, that’s considered a tax increase.

Download: The Constitutional Officers’ Budgets, Broken Down

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7 Responses for “Flagler Sheriff’s Budget For 2018-19 Would Go Up $3.8 Million, Largest In Over a Decade”

  1. Shark says:

    This is what you get with a republican !!!!!!!

  2. Flatsflyer says:

    Why does the city pay this extra money for an agency that the city residents all ready pay 90% of their bill? The City of Jacksonville has a similar arrangement with the Ducal County Sheriff and no double taxation is allowed or required?

  3. Larry Phelan says:

    Living near the Hammock Bridge for a dozen years, the amount of traffic has grown substantially! I understand that according to law, the monies collected are held in an account managed by Hammock Dunes to maintain the bridge. I am also told that there may be over ten million dollars in this account. Can the books be opened? And if this figure is true, maybe the residents could see fit to make a donation to the Palm Coast PD and the Palm Coast FD? Just saying!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A republican REALLY?More dirt bags+More cops = more tax dollars spent.

  5. Rich says:

    What’s being a republican got to do with anything. Try looking at the bigger picture and you might even learn something…maybe?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Larry—PC does not have a PD and that is what you pay when you live in an HOA. It’s a legal way to scam homeowners. If people are stupid enough to buy into it, don’t complain. That is money paid in by only those instant HOA—why would they want to give it to those that aren’t being taxed what they are? The Shefiff needs to come to his senses and tighten his own belt!

  7. Phillip R says:

    The reason it is up is because Staly would rather spend and is granted to spend over 50,000 for some beach jeep with leather seats among other “toys” too look good. If you saw the 4th of July Flagler parade you’d know what I am talking about. Complete waste of tax payers dollars on new loaded vehicles yet Blue Knights K-9 vest had to have a fundraiser to raise DONATIONS for these vests for the dogs. I think is complete disgrace. How embarrassing. Blows money on things that are not needed or replaces vehicles if a few years old.

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