County Judge David Silva summed it up Tuesday by simply saying, “My feelings are we are not going to get any new employees. Period.”
Commissioner Carlos Salazar agreed, saying, “That was my take also. Just leave it the way it is. I know everybody wants more.”
The sheriff’s office had been in the courtroom earlier this year pleading for more personnel.
The reason — an increase in the amount of crime because of the increase in people and traffic through the area.
In 2012, the number of crimes reported to deputies that would require additional investigation was 844. In 2013, that number climbed to 969. This year, the number is projected to reach 1,200, according to information recently provided to commissioners during their budget hearings.
The number of emergency calls in 2012 was 11,495, while this year, that number is projected to reach 14,800.
About a month ago, Lt. Ronnie Jones asked the court to consider adding two more deputies, a sergeant, a dispatcher and an investigator.
Jones, during that prior budget meeting, said, “Calls and everything are increasing. The Eagle Ford—this is the downside of it.”
The state average number of officers per 1,000 residents is about 2.4.
Taking into account the growth of the county recently, Bee would need to increase the number of officers to 48—just over three times what they have now.
The county did approve a 5 percent pay raise to all employees and a stipend of $50 per paycheck for those employees making below $26,000.
The county also took a different approach this year and decided just to increase everyone’s overall budget, excluding salaries.
While the county is looking at more money coming in this year than last, it doesn’t amount to as much as it sounds.
By choosing to go forward with a proposed rate of $0.44564 per $100 property valuation, the budget will increase about a million dollars.
However, the county previously committed half of this to salary increases at the jail.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.