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Escambia lawmakers in early stages of creating next year's budget
ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla Escambia County lawmakers are in the process of creating next years budget. The early budget drafts have Sheriff David Morgan slated for an increase of about 2-percent to run his department next year. The total sheriffs budget this year is about 50-million dollars. The increase would be about $5.2-million. Chief Deputy Eric Haines says the extra money will be hire 15 new deputies, provide holiday and overtime pay for their employees, as well as pay for the rising cost of gas prices. He says they need the 15 new deputies to give the level of service they want to provide the community. If we were supposed to get up to the average number of deputies that most sheriff's office have, we would have to add between 60 to 70 officers, we're only asking for 15 Haines said. But were going to ask for 15 every year until we're at state average. Haines says thefts are increasing. Violent crimes are showing a decrease, though they are still high. We were number one per capita in violent crimes last year, he said. I dont like that number a lot but its a new number FDLE is using, and this year we're number three." Haines says the extra money is also important to keep their pay competitive. He says not having overtime and holiday pay is affecting their attrition rates. We have deputies going out the door, Haines said. We have FHP coming to recruit from us. We are losing our seasoned officers. Navy Federal Credit Union has taken pretty much every computer crime and fraud investigator we have. County Commissioner Grover Robinson says the county has extra $3-million this year compared to last year because due to property taxes. Chairman Lumon May says its too early to say how much each department will get. He says at this stage of the budget process, every department has high requests. Its like your children for Christmas, he said. They come in with a wish list and three's an actual list they're going to get. So every department comes in with a wish list." There will be several more budget meetings until the end of September.