Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sheriff Seeking 3.1% Hike for Raises; Plan Is 'To Retain Good Employees'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sheriff Seeking 3.1% Hike for Raises; Plan Is 'To Retain Good Employees'

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL

In his first budget request as Clay County's new sheriff, Rick Beseler is seeking no increase in funding for operating expenses or capital outlay.

However, to cover modest raises for his 600 employees, Clay's top cop is seeking a 3.1 percent hike or $1.1 million over the previous budget of $36 million. Beseler expects to run his office for about $37 million for 2005-06.

"I'm proud of this budget," Beseler said in a phone interview June 2. "We've done creative things to hold the line this year."

Realigning personnel; limiting the use of department vehicles and cell phones; cutting rental costs by reducing storage needs; getting better prices for car insurance; and outsourcing car maintenance helped to keep funding needs even, Beseler said.

"We're being very efficient; we're being responsible," he said.

The 3.5 percent increase in salary expenses -- $965,206 -- includes a 2 percent cost-of-living hike in salaries for all employees, additional funds for merit raises, an increase for correctional officers to get their pay in line with street deputies and a state-mandated rate adjustment for retirement.

"We will pay for performance," Beseler said. "We need to retain good employees."

Those who do not get a merit raise will, with their supervisors, set goals for the next year, in an effort to give them direction, the sheriff said.

Though there are no new positions in the budget, Beseler has managed to get 12 more officers on the street. He's taken deputies who were managing communications and put them on the road, and promoted a communications officer to head that office. He's moved officers from desk jobs to the street patrol.

Additionally, "I have redirected positions to law enforcement by bringing positions back from task forces, eliminating programs . . . and consolidating job duties," Beseler wrote in his budget cover letter to the County Commission.

Law enforcement expenditure predictions of $27 million include a $30,000 contingency fund in case of emergency. …

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