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Wakulla Times Article-Sept. 2010--New Budget Proposal

The cost of “Keeping Wakulla Safe” is $10,574,985 and the amount has not increased from the 2009-2010 budget year to the upcoming 2010-2011 budget which begins on Oct. 1. In addition, the sheriff’s office receives more than $800,000 in grants and contracts to provide services to the residents of Wakulla County. The budget is also offset by $2.4 million collected through jail bed rental revenue.

In difficult economic times, Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey has submitted a proposed budget that is the same as the current budget approved by the county commission last summer for 2009-2010.
The sheriff submitted the budget despite increased costs of running the office and the growing demands of public safety and criminal justice. The cost of operating the sheriff’s office continues to rise with increased vendor costs and utility cost increases.
The sheriff’s office budget has been built in five sections with the $10.5 million broken into law enforcement, corrections, court security, Emergency Management and E 911.

“We have prepared our upcoming budget proposals with no requests for additional personnel, raises for employees or increases in operating costs,” said Sheriff Harvey. “This budget request reflects the fourth year of no new sworn deputy sheriffs to help keep Wakulla County safe.”
The budget work of the sheriff and the WCSO financial division reflects the sheriff’s desire to do his part to keep the budget costs in check while balancing the public safety needs of the community.
“We are the sole provider of law enforcement services for the entire county,” the sheriff added. “Our calls for service continue to increase each year, increasing our demand for service, without additional resources. We are maintaining staffing levels far below the national average.”

• Law Enforcement budget: $5,654,773

Within the Law Enforcement Division the sheriff funds road patrol; criminal investigations; civil and records; communications; and administration. “Our mission is to commit resources with the community to promote a safe environment, free of crime and fear of crime while we provide an optimum level of service to the citizens we serve,” said the sheriff. “We have a force of highly qualified deputies, many of whom have college degrees and are constantly cross-trained and attend career development schools.”

The calls for service are expected to increase by approximately five percent to reach a total of nearly 70,000 in the upcoming budget year. The sheriff’s office receives more than 9,000 E911 calls and is projected to dispatch approximately 6,200 EMS and fire calls in 2010-2011. The total number of calls to the communication center is expected to increase by one to two percent and top out at more than 122,000 calls. Projections for the new year include nearly 1,400 cases assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division, 2,447 civil processes served and 1,430 warrants served.

The sheriff’s office is serving Wakulla County with 18 vehicles that have more than 100,000 miles on them with one van having more than 200,000 miles. The WCSO is proposing eight new vehicles for the fleet at a cost of $186,000 which will be funded through one cent sales tax revenue.

The staff of dedicated professionals on the WCSO law enforcement staff include 31 full-time and two part-time in road patrol; seven full-time in the school resource officer section; 12 full-time in communications; 16 full-time in criminal investigations; six full-time in records and civil; two grant funded victim advocates; and 17 full-time and two-part time in administrative support including the sheriff, chief deputy, major, executive assistant; accreditation, public information, finance, grant administration, human resources and information technology.

The sheriff’s office employed 25 road patrol deputies in 2001-2002 with 30,323 calls for service. In 2009-2010, Wakulla County had 31 road patrol deputies and more than 70,000 calls for service. It takes four positions to fill one shift. There are four 12 hour shifts covering 24 hours per day and seven days per week. In addition, road patrol staff must cover employee vacation and sick time as necessary. No new road patrol deputies have been added since 2006-2007.

• Corrections budget: $4,444,289—Offset by $2.4 million in jail bed rental revenue. Total cost to the taxpayers is approximately $2 million.

The Corrections Division is responsible for the care, custody and control of more than 300 inmates and detainees. The WCSO provides medical care, transportation for court appearances, programming and recreation for everyone in the jail.
To offset the cost of running the facility, Sheriff Harvey continues to lease unused jail bed space to other agencies offsetting the operational costs and reducing the cost to local taxpayers. The U.S. Marshal and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) take advantage of the jail services and bring detainees to the Crawfordville facility in exchange for a rental fee.

The corrections staff includes 70 full-time and two part-time staff members including a major, two captains, four lieutenants, five sergeants, 28 correctional officers, 10 correctional assistants, food service officer, six medical service staff, two transportation staff, a work release lieutenant and commissary officer. Corrections also funds four maintenance staff and partially funds three litter control officers and a chaplain.

• Court Security budget: $269,475

Wakulla County has three full-time and four-part time bailiffs protecting the courthouse and the court system. A total of 94,000 people are projected to use the courthouse during the budget year and everyone must pass through the bailiff operated security system. Another 10,400 people are projected to use the court system. An estimated 758 inmates will be transported from the jail to the courthouse.

• E911 System budget: $183,175

The E911 or Enhanced 911 system budget is $183,175. The staff members update and maintain the 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 Answering Point. The division is also responsible for maintaining the Master Street Address Guide to insure 911 data base accuracy. Florida Statutes allow telephone surcharges to be levied each month to maintain the system. The staff includes a coordinator and data base clerk.

• Emergency Management Division budget: $23,273
 
Emergency Management assists citizens during times of natural and man-made disasters and acts as a liaison between state and federal governments for Homeland Security. The goal of the division is to save lives and protect property through the coordination of public safety programs. The division is funded by federal and state dollars and a small local match. Some of the activities of the division include development and updating of public safety plans, exercises, public presentations and training opportunities for public safety officials and the community. The county has one full-time director who reviewed or developed 26 safety plans, created 10 exercises or drills, provided 145 training opportunities, put on 35 public presentations and held functions attended by 600 people.

One area no longer funded by the sheriff is the animal control division. Wakulla County Commissioners took the animal control operation back from the sheriff in 2009-2010 and put the operation under the county’s Public Safety umbrella.

“We have many challenges ahead of us, including increased population growth, increases in vendor pricing, equipment replacement costs and have limited resources available,” said the sheriff. “You have my pledge that the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide the best service for the lowest cost possible as we all work to Keep Wakulla Safe.”

 

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