MILTON — Santa Rosa commissioners will address the issue of Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office deputies’ pay increases in July, per Sheriff Bob Johnson’s request.
Commissioners on Jan. 26 approved $1.6 million for the fiscal year 2018 budget for a one-time increase in deputy pay.
The 2017 budget included $480,000 that the Sheriff’s Department returned to the county from the 2016 county budget. During the same meeting, Commission Chairman Rob Williamson suggested the county return a portion of that, $290,000, to the Sheriff’s Department to implement the raises in August.
Johnson requested June 22 to receive the balance of prior year funds in the amount of $193,000 to allow for raises to take effect in July.
The only stipulation came from Commissioner Sam Parker. Johnson informed the commission he was incorrect about which Sheriff’s Department employees the raise would cover.
“I had dispatch included in that, our dispatchers, and I was under the impression they were high-risk,” Johnson said. “They are not. That has been included in this $1.6 million and the grand total of that is $71,800.”
Parker questioned giving raises to the dispatchers without doing the same for other county employees.
“Thank God for our dispatchers,” Parker said. “Anybody that’s worked with me during my decade of law enforcement won’t question my appreciation towards them, but I do think that I would do an injustice to my county employees, specifically those 911 operators housed in the (Emergency Operations Center) building.”
“Since 2015 we’ve hired 21 dispatchers,” Johnson said. “Seventeen of the 21 did not make it through training. And we’ve lost 19 dispatchers in the same time period for better pay or taking other jobs, but I understand where you’re coming from.”
Johnson suggested a compromise: he would give raises to only the sworn officers and not the dispatchers if the board would approve his request. Parker agreed to support the compromise and the board passed the request.