Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Backs Sheriff on Call for Deputies | Commissioners Offer Support for Sheriff's Funding Request

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

County Backs Sheriff on Call for Deputies | Commissioners Offer Support for Sheriff's Funding Request

Article excerpt

MANATEE

MANATEE COUNTY -- Before he completes his final year in office, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube says he wants to provide his agency some of the resources it needs to protect the county's expanding population and curtail crime in its roughest neighborhoods.

It comes with a cost: Steube wants a 5.6 percent budget increase for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, largely to give pay raises and hire more employees.

On Wednesday, Steube recommended a $113.8 million Sheriff's Office budget to the County Commission, which levies property taxes to pay for the law enforcement agency - an increase of about $6 million.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight intends to make a similar request of the Sarasota County Commission, having submitted last week a proposed budget of $111 million -- up more than $6 million to pay for new hires, increased health insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions and other expenses.

Manatee commissioners were unanimously supportive of Steube's budget request.

They noted that the increase Steube seeks is $796,741 more than what County Administrator Ed Hunzeker has already recommended.

"We need to make sure you have what you need," Commissioner Vanessa Baugh told Steube.

Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said taxpayers would support a slight increase in the property tax rate if it means expanding law enforcement. She said the extra taxes could be just a few dollars per household. "The amount of money, if they get burglarized, is way more than that."

On Aug. 2, the commissioners will hear Hunzeker's recommendations concerning every budget item that they have "flagged" for future discussion, including Steube's request for more personnel.

Steube's budget includes 4 percent pay raises for current employees, which Hunzeker already recommends. Hunzeker also recommended funding for eight additional deputies. …

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