The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is reducing its publicly paid staff by nearly 90 people, but Sheriff Chris Nocco says he’ll still need at least $6 million more than he got last year.
Nocco’s total budget request for 2014-15 is $96.4 million, up nearly 6.5 percent from last year’s approved budget, according to a release. Most of that increase comes from giving pay raises to long-term deputies and employees who right now are watching new hires come in at the same salary, or sometimes more, than what they are making.
The 86 positions affecting the budget are not being eliminated, but instead many have been privatized, spokesman Kevin Doll said.
Nocco wants to raise those salaries by 1 percent for every year each employee has worked, capping it at 5 percent. In order for that to happen, however, he would need to raise his budget request to the Pasco County Commission by $2.6 million.
The move, however, is necessary, to help keep veteran employees on the staff, and not leave for higher-paying jobs with other agencies, Nocco said.
Nocco also wants to get rid of “flexing,” described as sending employees home instead of paying overtime because the sheriff’s office doesn’t have enough funds to pay overtime. Doing that reduces the number of deputies patrolling the streets and investigating crime, the sheriff said. To do it, however, he would need an additional $333,000 budgeted for overtime.
The budget would have to be approved by the Pasco County Commission, who received the budget Friday. County administrator Michele Baker said in a release that her staff would “look carefully” at what the sheriff is asking for.
“We have had good discussions leading up to the sheriff’s budget submission today,” Baker said. “I am hopeful that the discussions moving forward this summer will be just as positive.”
Nocco did note that some other increases were out of his control. Retirement funding, for example, jumped $345,500 as mandated by the Florida Legislature. Another $300,000 would go toward the sheriff’s helicopter for maintenance and to purchase a $94,000 night-vision infrared camera.
The sheriff also wants to hire three additional school resource officers to address population increase in schools.
“We are in position for tremendous growth in Pasco,” Nocco said, in a release. “The time to begin planning and addressing public safety is now.”