Sheriff budget per employee up, too

Escambia County’s Sheriff Office added 19 employees since 2014. We don’t know in what department or if they are deputies on patrol.  The cost to run the ECSO per employee has increased $23,817 from 2014 to 2021 – 33.5%.

How much of that jump went to increasing the pay for deputies?

How well has the ECSO managed the millions that it receives annually? And what is going in to the paychecks for those serving on the frontlines?

These are the questions that the BCC should ask. More in-depth analysis needs to be done by the county’s budget office.

Budget Employees Per Employee Increase %
2014  $ 47,884,936 674  $        71,046
2015  $ 50,797,407 689  $        73,726  $          2,680 3.8%
2016  $ 53,774,834 700  $        76,821  $          3,095 4.2%
2017  $ 55,438,635 704  $        78,748  $          1,927 2.5%
2018  $ 58,784,478 704  $        83,501  $          4,753 6.0%
2019  $ 60,239,868 693  $        86,926  $          3,426 4.1%
2020  $ 62,839,867 693  $        90,678  $          3,752 4.3%
2021  $ 65,739,867 693  $        94,863  $          4,185 4.6%
Total increase  $        23,817 33.5%
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3 thoughts on “Sheriff budget per employee up, too

  1. Edwin,
    Much more in-depth analysis needs to be done. The macro approach indicates some possible issues, but these numbers don’t tell the whole story. One of the responsibilities of the former county administrator was to look at the ECSO budget and make recommendations to the board. Past administrators had lengthy discussions and negotiations with the sheriff, starting in April and May. Sadly, it didn’t.

    -Rick

  2. Rick,
    Do your numbers reflect costs adjusted for inflation? If not, I have done some quick arithmetic for you.
    This is interesting, but some context would certainly clarify the picture and theme of the article.
    Is this a case of mismanagement from the current and previous Sheriff?
    Is this an example of lax oversight by the County Commission?
    Does this article oversimplify the budget and cast the Sheriff and County Commission in a negative light?
    Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator, to have the same purchasing power as $71,046 (June 2014 dollars) in June 2021 would require $80,987.96.
    To decry an increase of per employee costs over seven years (2014-2021) from $71,046 (2014 costs per capita) to $94,863 (2021 per capita) seems a bit of a strawman. If 2014 costs per employee were adjusted for inflation, 2021 costs would be $80,987.96.
    When inflation is considered, the real increase is not $23,817. It is really the additional $13,875.04. The real issue here is what do we get for the additional $13,875.04 per employee (difference between adjust 2021 costs with inflation ($80,987.96) and what is requested ($94,863)).
    Some of this increase may be beyond the Sheriff’s control.
    A few quick questions:
    1) Do your numbers reflect both operating and capital budgets for the Sheriff’s Office? Does this consider the purchase or lease of new facilities and vehicles as well as paying for personnel? What about pension and insurance costs as drivers of the increase? Is that a factor? Were any of these costs related to state or federally-mandated equipment or personnel acquisitions? Many times, when the law or policies (Some court decisions, especially on use of force, can act as catalysts for this as well.) change, agencies are required to hire new personnel, provide additional or new training or procure new equipment so that they remain in compliance with law, regulation or insurance requirements.
    2) Is the additional $13,875.04 paying for sworn or non-sworn personnel? Are these deputies on the street or functionaries and overhead in the office?
    3) What are the sources of funding for this budget? If the additional $13,875.04 is comprised of federal or state grants or seed money, that is one thing. If it is derived from Escambia County funds, that is another.
    4) How does the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office compare with other Florida Sheriff Offices of similar size and population? Do we have the same street depth and administrative ratio?
    I could write on, but my lunch hour is only 60 minutes.
    Context matters here, especially as it can call into question the diligence and competence of our public safety personnel and leadership.
    I am no fan of the Escambia County political class. I wholeheartedly agree with you that diligent oversight of public funds and law enforcement are needed to protect our finances and rights as citizens.
    We should all hope that the County Commission is asking these questions, but we should not be surprised to learn that they are not scrutinizing the budget this closely. Too often, matters of security are so sacrosanct that they escape fiscal examination.
    Your article is informative, but it needs some context to keep it from sending the wrong message.
    Give to the Sheriff the same fairness, scrutiny and thoroughness you expect the County Commission and others to give him.

  3. In 2020, Sheriff Morgan didn’t attend the Sheriff’s Office portion of the BOCC budget workshop lasting about 7 total minutes. (Chief Deputy Simmons “did” attend.) In 2021, yesterday, Sheriff Simmons didn’t attend his portion of the workshop lasting about 30 total minutes. (Chief Deputy Lyter also was “not” present.) A Sheriff’s Office staffer explained to the BOCC, “Sheriff Chip Simmons couldn’t be here.” However, Simmons did have time for a 11-minute News Radio 1620 interview. Maybe the Sheriff’s Office presentation should have been rescheduled so Sheriff Simmons could speak for himself? In both 2020 and 2021, there was no discussion by the BOCC or by the Sheriff’s Office about crime in the county, crime fighting or crime rates. Crime seems to be a taboo topic at BOCC budget workshops. The BOCC’s 2020 Sheriff’s Office budget discussion was mostly about an evidence locker. The 2021 discussion was mostly a discussion about more and more and more money for Deputies. In both years, there were obvious disconnects between the Sheriff’s Office and Escambia County, as if they had only just met, and even within Escambia County. Putting Bender in charge this year did not help. Maybe the longest serving commissioner should be put in charge of the budget process each year. At one point, Barry called Bender out on the Sheriff’s Office budget – “nothing has been done.” Bender excused that he hadn’t told the other board members about his passive approach this year because they cannot talk out to each other of the sunshine.” Well, Bender might have mentioned what he was going to do during any of the many prior public meetings this year where the five of them were gathered as a governing body. He might have asked the County Administrator or the Chief Budget Officer or both to brief the others that he intended to hand them a hot mess in July for the Sheriff’s part of the budget. He could also have scheduled a short, single-topic public meeting to discuss with the others “his” plan for this budget cycle and get their guidance. They likely would have said, “Don’t do that.” Yesterday, I would have liked to hear Sheriff Simmons openly acknowledge that his office’s crime rate is way too high and then lay out how “he” was going to lower the Sheriff’s Office crime rate during his first term of office, how low and what it would cost. My guess is that any such plan would likely involve a lot of overtime pay to pay to surge Deputies into certain areas and on days and times where the crime problem is worst and especially where there are a lot of shootings. Funding more overtime pay for FY2022 might be a better approach next year than a permanent 6% pay raise and then another permanent 6% pay raise in 2023 atop the other pay raises the Deputies will be getting based on COLA, step-increases. Next year, maybe the BOCC should very early in the year appoint citizen committees to carefully vet each part of the county budget “in detail.”

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