|2012-2013 WCSO Budget Planning--Sept. 2012 Wakulla Times Article|
WAKULLA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE PREPARES FOR A NEW BUDGET YEAR
BY DONNIE CRUM
The summer months have been here for weeks and despite a few distractions like severe flooding from Tropical Storm Debby and the occasional pounding of summer thunderstorms, the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office has also been active in creating a budget request document for review by the Wakulla County Commission, county staff and the public.
The WCSO is the sole provider of law enforcement services for the entire county and for the sixth year in a row no new sworn deputy sheriffs have been added. The number of calls received in the communications division continues to rise without an increase in resources.
We have many challenges ahead of us but we are committed to maintaining public expectations related to law enforcement and corrections services. I have been committed to looking for cost savings in every line item of the budget. We have explored many avenues in order to accommodate for prior year budget cuts.
In a nutshell, the law enforcement budget is $5.3 million while corrections accounts for another $4.8 million. The court security budget is $217,467 while E-911 is proposed at $165,314 and our portion of the Emergency Management budget is $23,273.
The law enforcement section of the budget has decreased from $5.6 million in 2010-2011 to a proposed budget of $5.3 million in 2012-2013. The corrections budget was $4.3 million in 2010-2011 and the request is $4.8 million in 2012-2013 due to inmate medical requirements for the federal detainees.
Federal detainees expenditures are funded by a daily per diem rate billed to the federal agencies each month and remitted to the county’s General Fund.
The court security budget is set at $217,467 which is the same level as 2012-2013. The E-911 budget is $165,314 which is the same as last year’s budget and $2,000 less than 2010-2011. The
Emergency Management budget of $23,273 has remained unchanged over the past several budget years. This funding serves as grant match for the Federal Emergency Management grant.
The law enforcement division includes 29 full time positions and one part time position in road patrol. There are four school resource officers who are partially paid by the school district. There are 12 positions in the communications division. These positions provide 24 hour/seven day support and are equivalent to eight full time positions, 40 hours per week.
There are 15 staff members in the Criminal Investigations Division with one partially funded by a grant. The records/civil division have five positions and the administrative support for law enforcement and other divisions includes 16 positions, this includes the Sheriff, Undersheriff, Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Accreditation, secretaries and Public Information Officer. The WCSO also has two Victim Advocates who are grant funded.
The Corrections Division has 53 positions that include everything from the Major over the operation to correctional officers and assistants to a transportation officer and commissary officer. Many of these positions provide support 24 hours/seven days a week as well. Eight additional positions in corrections address maintenance, litter control and park maintenance. The park maintenance officer is contract funded.
Court Security includes two full time and four part time bailiffs. The E-911 Division has two positions and the Emergency Management Division has one position which is funded by federal and state grants as well as a portion of the General Fund.
Crime prevention funding and moving violations funds could provide $12,000 for off duty details and $15,000 to replace communications radios. A total of $12,000 has been earmarked for law enforcement training and $20,000 for domestic violence training.
A new law enforcement annex is needed for the Criminal Investigations Division and $247,035 has been recommended to be put aside from one cent sales tax money for public facilities and $152,965 has been put aside for the same purpose from law enforcement impact fees. Building enhancements are planned for the jail at a cost of $74,047 from the corrections impact fees. The one cent sales tax fund for public safety will be used to purchase six new agency vehicles as part of the vehicle replacement cycle. The vehicle and equipment cost will be $194,000.
Road patrol officers drive 29 of the 59 vehicles funded by the one cent sales tax. The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) drives 13 vehicles while the school resource officers drive four. Three vehicles are driven by the sheriff and administration and three others by litter control. The corrections transport operation drives three vehicles and the court security drives two. Parks and recreation needs account for another vehicle along with the civil processor.
Twelve of the vehicles have at least 107,291 miles on them including five vehicles used by the road patrol. The litter control truck has nearly 200,000 miles on it. One of the school resource vehicles has nearly 150,000 miles on it.
Vehicles are replaced based on mileage and mechanical performance. The new vehicles would be issued to the road patrol and CID units.
For those who are not familiar with the Wakulla County budget, the WCSO is funded by the General Fund and property tax revenue makes up slightly more than 47 percent of the fund. The rest of the county budget includes state revenue sharing, public services taxes, jail bed revenue and local fees.
The sheriff’s office has been asked to oversee Law Enforcement, Corrections, E-911, Court Security and Emergency Management operational budgets. The five budgets total $9,816,041 which is 52 percent of the General Fund or 23 percent of the total Wakulla County budget. The percentage is common in counties across Florida.
The Corrections budget includes the cost of housing approximately 120 federal detainees and inmates from other agencies. The jail bed rental revenues are expected to bring in 13 percent of all General Fund revenues.
The WCSO operation has several divisions that require public safety and citizen support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Communications Division, Road Patrol Division and Corrections Division must employ four times as many employees as a regular hourly office because the divisions never close. The WCSO has 145 full time personnel with an average salary of $35,000.
I have accepted the challenge of reducing all line item expenditures in an effort to do more with fewer resources. The WCSO has worked tirelessly to reduce costs in many operating categories including communications and utilities. Efforts to hold line items within budget have been equally challenging with line items such as motor fuel and contractual services.
Savings in communications include policy changes of agency issued cell phones. Agency issued cell phones are limited to command staff and on call staff only. The result has been a savings to taxpayers of more than $7,000 a year. The average monthly cell phone cost has been reduced to $28 per month.
While we cannot control the cost of motor fuel, we have implemented policies to limit the number of miles driven each day by road patrol deputies. Fuel usage is being tracked on a daily basis.
Conservation efforts and policy changes have allowed the sheriff’s office to address maintenance issues and vendor contracts without having to ask for more money from the taxpayers. It is a budget success story when an inmate food contract price increase of $14,000 can be paid by line item cost saving efforts.
At a time when taxpayers are struggling and tax assessments are dropping, the WCSO has proven to the citizens of Wakulla County to be good stewards of their money. The WCSO reduced its Fiscal Year 11-12 budget by $743,723 and since September 2008, has returned $582,988 of unspent dollars back to the county.
Revenues generated by housing detainees from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Marshals continue to assist the Wakulla County General Fund. Total jail bed revenues recorded in FY 10-11 amounted to $3,272,062 and the WCSO will continue to explore cost saving ideas that realign resources into more efficient operations.
The philosophy of the sheriff’s office and the importance of discretionary programs to the citizens of the county are important factors to consider when looking at staffing levels. As a family oriented community, emphasis is placed on crime prevention, traffic enforcement, youth services, crime against the elderly, drug enforcement and child protection investigations.
LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION
At the sheriff’s office we are constantly evaluating law enforcement staffing. Strategies for creating staffing plans for law enforcement vary. We have implemented staffing plans that take into account political considerations, economic conditions, crime trends, calls for service and community expectations.
In examining the ratio of law enforcement officers to population, the average for jurisdictions throughout the United States with a population of less than 100,000, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics, is 1.8 sworn officers per 1,000 people. The estimated current population of Wakulla County is more than 32,000 people. In applying the calculation, WCSO would need 57 sworn officers employed this year. Currently, the WCSO is budgeted for 52 sworn officers, a ratio of 1.65, below the national average by five positions.
If the calls for service and population statistics continue to grow, positions should be added to the Law Enforcement Division in order to keep up with community demand.
Some of the major accomplishments for 2011-2012 include: a higher crime clearance rate than 56 of Florida’s 67 counties; a Drug Take Back Program to collect and destroy more than 200 pounds of unwanted prescription medications; more than $250,000 in recovered stolen property; 86 narcotics investigations resulted in 143 felony narcotic related charges; 786 special events conducted including funeral escorts, parades, festival traffic control, educational events and car seat fittings; Public Service Officer program worked more than 3,370 hours in support of uniform patrol and Reserve Deputies have logged more than 3,070 hours of on duty time; more than 8,000 security checks were conducted; uniform patrol responded to 165 reports of missing individuals and all 165 were located; more than 3,000 traffic stops were initiated; received a “clean” opinion on the WCSO financial statement audit; administered SAVE programs addressing substance abuse to fifth graders in all four elementary schools; continued the Project Lifesaver electronic wrist band locator with the senior citizens center for locating missing elderly; and seven citizens participated in the sheriff’s Ride Along program.
We want to continue to dedicate efforts to reduce crime and fear of crime throughout the county; ensure tax dollars and other resources are being used efficiently and effectively; and enhance internal and external communications related to public safety issues and open government.
In the Corrections Division, the Wakulla County Jail houses an average of 250 inmates on a daily basis. Approximately 58 percent are local offenders with the remainder coming from ICE and the U.S. Marshals.
The jail operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. A certain staffing level must be maintained to monitor inmates and minimize the potential of inmates being a danger to themselves, other inmates or to staff. The jail has met the National Detention Standards and Florida Model Jail Standards and has passed re-accreditation by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission.
However, projected growth will increase the workload at the jail along with changes in state and federal jail standards.
The Wakulla County Jail can house up to 350 inmates. The division provides care, custody and control of local and contracted inmates. The responsibilities include medical care, meals, movement for court appearances, visitor visitations and recreation to all inmates. The maintenance department and inmate work crew program are also under corrections.
Some of the major goals during the past year include: maintained federal and state contracts to rent jail bed space earning more than $2.5 million in revenue for the General Fund; passed National Detention Standards and Florida Model Jail inspections and received re-accreditation from the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission; maintained perfect security record with no escapes; improved and expanded the recreation yard and added a second recreation yard for local inmates; contracted medical services to provide a higher level of care for those in custody and provided a full time mental health professional; upgraded the inmate phone system; timers added for hot water heaters to limit time in showers; improved plumbing system; replaced control panel for door security; replaced 20 ton air chiller with ozone friendly puron system; replaced low pressure sodium light fixtures with fluorescent bulbs; met budget reductions by decreasing command staff; and provided support for nine inmates to earn their GED.
We are hoping to continue our relationship with the various agencies that contract with WCSO to benefit the county and save taxpayers money. We hope to obtain a contract rate increase with ICE to bring in additional funds. We will continue to operate and provide a Sheriff’s Work camp for non-violent offenders in order to save taxpayer dollars and maintain staffing levels in order to meet all standards.
The WCSO provides court security for circuit and county cases through the appointment of bailiffs to attend court proceedings. During the past year the bailiffs have monitored the flow of more than 90,000 visitors who entered the courthouse. Courtroom security has been expanded to include family law magistrate and child support magistrate. Our staff worked with the proper agencies to create locations for 16 additional security cameras.
Our security staff will continue to monitor entry into the courthouse and discourage use of unauthorized entrances into the facility. The staff will not allow unauthorized items to be taken into the courthouse and the WCSO staff will continue to attend all circuit and county court sessions held in the courthouse.
The E-911 Division updates and maintains the Enhanced 911 telecommunications system that automatically associates a physical address with the calling party’s telephone number and routes the call to the most appropriate Public Safety Addressing Point. These employees are responsible for maintaining the Master Street Address Guide to ensure 911 date base accuracy.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIVISION
The Emergency Management Division assists citizens during natural and manmade disasters and acts as a liaison with state and federal agencies. The division is funded by state and federal grant money with the county budget reflecting the required match.
During the past year the division converted the Law Enforcement Communications System to the mandated narrowband system; developed and managed a mass casualty exercise involving a school bus; addressed an active shooter during an exercise involving county commissioners; participated in the statewide hurricane exercise; addressed serious flooding from Tropical Storm Debby; and updated the current Evacuation Study.
The division will continue to work to attain a state of operational readiness to respond to any hazard that may potentially impact Wakulla County; continue to coordinate Emergency Management training opportunities with county stakeholders; and continue to educate the public about county vulnerabilities and encourage each resident to develop individual family preparedness plans.
I hope that you have learned a little bit more about the budget of the WCSO. Budget proposals for the WCSO 2012-2013 budget can be picked up at the WCSO facility. We are also always happy to answer any questions.