Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre’s budget request for the coming year is $2.5 million larger than this year, with additional staffing at the new jail, money for 10 new patrol vehicles, a 5 percent across-the-board raise and state-required retirement contributions accounting for the bulk of the increase.
After nine years of relatively flat budgets in the wake of the Great Recession, the 10 percent increase is the largest year-over-year jump since former Sheriff Don Fleming requested—and got—a 31 percent increase in 2007, at the end of three budget years that doubled the sheriff’s budget—from $11 million in 2004—and raised deputies’ salaries significantly over three years. But that was the last time deputies got more than a nominal raise.
The request was submitted to the Flagler County Commission, which must approve it.
“There’s probably going to be an increase, I’m not sure it’s going to be $2.5 million,” Commission Chairman Frank Meeker said Monday. “I know there’s negotiations going on between the county administrator and the sheriff.” Meeker said those negotiations will continue, along with the commission, until the budget is approved in September. The county is considering a 2.5 percent increase for county employees, including sheriff’s employees and those of other constitutional officers, such as the tax collector’s and the property appraiser’s.
“As I told the county administrator, we’ll make our pitch and whatever the county commission decides, we’ll live with,” Manfre said. “But we’re still three positions below the amount that’s been authorized. Our population has increased.”
“We’re asking for a 5 percent increase, not a 2.5 percent increase,” Manfre said. “We’re trying to establish a step plan which has a longevity component to motivate deputies to remain in the agency. We’re losing people because we’ve only given them 2 percent over the past six years. When we lose a deputy it takes us six months to replace him, we lose all that knowledge and experience. That’s what we’re negotiating with the union right now.”
Salaries and benefits alone would add $1.6 million to the budget, with a new jail and operations center generating their own new costs.
In earlier negotiations with the union, Manfre asked that raises be delayed until this year, while also pledging that he would make a step plan a priority for the agency’s road and corrections deputies. A step plan means that every year an employee’s salary increases in line with experience. The teachers’ union and the school district’s service employee union employees have just such a step plan. It kicks in when budgets are not strained. Under Manfre’s budget request, salaries would increase by $726,000, benefits would increase $830,000, driven largely by an increase in the sheriff’s required contribution to the state retirement system.
The jail’s budget would increase by $614,000, to $5.94 million (more than double its budget 10 years ago), as a new, much larger jail begins operations next year. In an interview in August, Manfre said the expansion would not require new detention deputies, but that additional detention deputies were needed regardless. “The issue is not increasing detention deputies because of the expansion. I don’t see that at all,” Manfre said at the time. “We’ve gone through the numbers, we’re pretty certain we can keep that. The problem is our prison population is increasing. We haven’t increased the amount of detention deputies in five years. So we need to increase detention deputies just because we have more prisoners. We haven’t determined how many new detention deputies we’re going to need. But right now the prison population is increasing just because the population has gone up by 6,000 people.”
In his request to the county, Manfre is asking for four additional corrections deputies and two additional road patrol deputies.
“What I said was, we need more front end, not more back end” deputies, Manfre said in an interview last week. “And you have to remember, we have three buildings now. We’re going from one inmate facility to a brand new facility, plus an operations center. So what we need is more front end people because as we talked about, we are making more arrests. It doesn’t necessarily always mean that we have a higher inmate population, because a lot of those people bond out quickly, but the essence of community policing is making more misdemeanor arrests or quality of life arrests so you keep them from offending more serious crimes.”
Manfre is also asking for three part-time positions to be made full-time, and requesting 10 new patrol vehicles because, he said, “The former sheriff did not keep up with vehicle purchasing.” There will be a saving of $80,000 from reduced rentals or leases of space elsewhere as the new Sheriff’s Operations Center opens in downtown Bunnell. On the other hand, utility services alone, at the new jail, will add $58,000 in costs.
“If it’s justified, it’s justified,” Meeker said. “I’ve got two new buildings and a bunch of vehicles.” But he still expects “a lot of give and take.”
The larger budget is a reflection of an entire government structure finally exhaling from years of tight budgets. Last week the property appraiser released figures showing that property values have risen roughly 7 percent in the county, alleviating some pressure on next year’s budgets as tax revenue grows. But all government agencies are submitting larger budgets, including those the commission oversees.
But no showdowns are expected. “I’m not going to threaten to go to the governor, I’m not doing that,” Manfre said. “We’ll make our best presentation to them, they are the stewards of the money that they give us, but I would not be doing my duty if I did not point out to them our needs for our manpower and also to create a step plan that keeps our experienced deputies and employee sin the agency longer.”
Let’s get our own P.D. and get rid of these clowns!!!!!!!!!!
And the beat goes on..and..on..and..on.
How about living within our means?
How about demilitarizing, do we need 40 Swat Officers, two APC’s and numerous other items that were made available by the Federal Government. Every time I see one LEO car, I see several, I would like to know when was the last time a Deputy made an arrest without calling out the Cavalry.
Living within means? These deputies have not seen an increase in salary or cost of living increase in practically 8 years. Everything is going up and the government keeps taking more $$ from their pay. It’s about time and I’m willing to pay for their service and contributions. And really get our own PD? try and fund that one and see what happens. Whatever your displeasure is with the Sheriff’s Office maybe you should educate yourself and look again at what they provide and how little the City of Palm Coast Pays for it. Just Saying…
Palm Coast only pays the Sheriff’s Office 2.6 million a year for a level of law enforcement services. Good luck starting any Police Department with that little amount of money and getting the same services Shark!
BARRY HARTMANN says
You will never be able to stat up and maintain your own PD for 2.6 million, Please donet even try. Its about time the deputies get an increase, long,long, overdue!!!!!!!!!!
For what – Running radar on Florida Park drive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes. Roughly 140,000 annual calls for service and all of those involve traffic infractions……..read some of the other articles on this very site and educate yourself about the job these men and women actually do.
Ray Thorne says
Just recently therevwasban article about the county firefighters receiving raises..no one said a word. Mentioncomes of deputies getting raises and tthere’s moaning and groaning. The firefighter article mentioned 9 year firefighters current salaries are in the $40’s. A 9 year deputy salary is at $35,500. A new deputy starts out with the same salary as the deputy with 9 years on the job.
Start our own PD? Yet no one wants a tax increase. The 2.6 million the city pays now for law enforcement services would increase to 7 million with its own PD. The studies have been done….educate yourself. 40 SWAT officers? If I’m correct I don’t think there’s near that many and being on the SWAT team is a secondary duty with no extra pay. Yes demilitarize those who would first respond to an act of domestic terrorism…..that sounds about right…smh.
Ray Thorne says
For comparison, Palm Coast pays 2.6 million for law enforcement services. The city of Bunnell has a 1 million dollar police budget. Bunnell’s budget covers two officers to patrol the city per shift. Many times its just one officer patrolling. So for our 2.6 million we’d get a four man per shift police department in Palm Coast. Not feasible.
You have to lend the man credit for stepping up to the plate for his men and women there.
lena Marshal says
Five O , your a dreamer, Volusia nd St John are just as high or higher
I’m a dreamer for saying it’s impossible for Palm Coast to start their own PD with only 2.6 million?
It’s about time! These men and women put their lives on the line everyday. How dare anyone complain about giving them a pay raise. They are under appreciated by the County Goverment. When you need them you will be the first one to call. Wise up and pay them what they are worth.
Palm Coast pays an additional amount for additional law enforcement services. If you think that’s all the Palm Coast taxpayer pays, you are mistaken. Look at your county tax bill. That’s where all county taxpayers, including Palm Coast residents, pay for law enforcement services. Assuming you want a separate Palm Coast Police Department, and I don’t, you get your funding through an MSTU. This takes any county tax dollars that are for policing, not the jail and other services performed by the sheriff’s office, and uses these funds for a city police department. Theoretically, this should reduce your county tax bill.
Jack Howell says
Several years ago, when I was a candidate for sheriff, I wanted to see the deputies earn a livable wage so they would not have to work second jobs or seek many hours of overtime to make ends meet. Flagler County needs to provide competitive wages to retain well qualified personnel. I also wanted to establish merit pay and a step system.
Buddy Negron says
I don’t know about you, but I see right through this. Why did Manfre wait until the year before the election to try and get his people raises they’ve needed for years??? Why didn’t he fight and bring this up in the past three years in office??? And he’s already told the commission he’s not willing to fight for it and will take whatever they give him, so is he really fighting or tough talking but giving up??? Lol. This guy is a total weasel. How can you talk like that, but then tell them that you will just take what they give you. He’s clearly just looking for union support but also not looking to upset county officials. Once again Jim Manfre tries to play both sides and once again is talking out of both sides of his mouth. You guys may be buying his BS, but I’m not buying it and the educated and intelligent residents of our county see right through him and his silly games. Let’s just hope the commission will throw the FCSO employees a bone and give them a raise. Lord knows they deserve it…and a better Sheriff!! C’mon 2016!!!