|Response to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office News Release|
On October 12, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office issued a statement indicating the Jefferson County Commission froze 30 percent of the departments budget for the Fiscal Year 2024. This is not factually correct.
The Jefferson County Commission requested a freeze of 30% of all funded existing vacancies throughout the County System for FY 2024. As has been well documented throughout multiple industries, including local government, filling positions is challenging. Tying up public funds by budgeting for positions that you are unlikely to fill within a fiscal year prevents us from using those funds to instead address operational or capital needs. The Jefferson County Commission believes that being realistic about the current labor market conditions and shifting these funds to work for our residents instead of leaving them idle is the most responsible decision.
At the time the budget was adopted, the Sheriff’s office had123 vacancies, a number that steadily increased over the last several years to its current level. The department would have to fill 86 of these before running up against the frozen positions. The Commission elected to invest in the recommended salary and cost of living increases for those 86 positions to significantly increase the probability of filling them, rather than continuing the current trend of increasing total vacancies. As the position freeze affected all County Departments, the County Manager’s office has also indicated that if hiring efforts exceed forecasts, and a business need exists, he is willing to work with Departments to address those specific situations.
This has no impact on operational expenses such as equipment, training, and outreach.
The Commission fully supports public safety, and thetireless work of our law enforcement personnel and to that extent, funded a 10%pay increase across the board for Sheriff’s deputies on FY 2024 and a 4.7%increase to the Sheriff’s overall budget. The Commission also allocated$3.5 million to fund renovation of the Sheriff’s Barracks for thetraining academy, in addition to the special $1.5 million allocation at the endof FY2023 for a total additional investment of $5 million dollars.We hope this is simply a misunderstanding.