|Sat, Nov 01, 2014 08:38 AM
|Issue of October 29, 2014
September 03, 2014 | 09:40 AM
The Harrison County Council last Wednesday night, during a budget hearing, revealed the financial planning committee's aim to increase the number of Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. officers in response to a previous request from Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye.
Earlier this year, Seelye requested five new police officers to solve the lack of manpower issue within the department.
The council's preliminary plan (the actual 2015 budget won't be approved until October) includes two new officers beginning on Jan. 1 and a corrections officer in 2016, another officer in 2017 and so on until 2019 for a total of six officers (four road and two corrections).
"It won't fix everything immediately, but it's a long-term approach that will fix our problems," Seelye said. "It's satisfactory."
With this plan, Seelye said there's not as much of a "sticker shock" as five officers at one time.
A salary for each officer position will be about $35,000, but, adding in all of the insurance, retirement, etc., it comes out to about $75,000 per officer per year, assuming family insurance is needed. Other than the two new officer positions for next year, an extra officer will be added as a transfer of a position from a crime-scene technician to a police officer, which will have a marginal effect on the budget.
In March, Seelye detailed the need for more officers through statistics. Harrison County has one officer for every 1,734 people in the county compared to one for every 1,294 in Floyd County; one for every 552 in New Albany; 444 in Corydon; and 333 in Crawford County.
Floyd County has 30 officers and had 15,482 runs for service last year compared to Harrison County's 22 officers and 23,200 runs. Crawford County, with eight officers, had 6,718 runs.
Harrison County currently has 22 officers with a population of 38,148 (taking out the town of Corydon). With the requested five new officers, plus the newly-added two school resource officers, the department would total 29 officers. That would bring Harrison County up to one officer for every 1,300 or so residents. And with four new road officers by 2019, the recommended plan will get the department close to that figure.
In other sheriff's budget matters, a 5-percent raise across the board was requested, with a 10-percent raise for lieutenants and a 15-percent raise for the captain. Seelye also said a salary increase will soon be requested for the jail commander.
The sheriff's department's budget includes eight new vehicles for next year, at a cost of $33,000 each. Seelye said the majority of the vehicles will be Ford Explorers, since they're best in winter weather and have little problem getting around Harrison County roads. He said they're "way better" than the Dodge Chargers in terms of gas mileage. And the Ford Tauruses, he said, have a bad blind spot. All three options are similar in price.
Seelye said the jail currently has about 150 inmates but has averaged closer to 170 during the last few years.
The council has completed its budget hearings and will now begin budget deliberation sessions this month.
The next regular meeting of the council will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.