Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil is asking for a $7 million budget increase for 2017. He says the dollars are needed to cover union salary increases and back pay approved by county commissioners, begin a three-year radio replacement, and hire six corporals to help supervise new coverage areas.
"Corporals also pick up radio runs for service," says Neil. "It's like getting two birds with one stone. You're getting a supervisor plus you're getting an extra car out there to back up the contracts."
The corporals would staff the newly created District Four which provides contracted coverage to Lincoln Heights, Arlington Heights, Columbia Township and Silveron.
Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover says the heroin epidemic and related crimes are increasing the department's workload. Three deputies have been reassigned to the heroin response task force.
In total, the Sheriff's office is requesting $67.5 million. The preliminary recommendation from the county's budget office is $64.8 million.
The bulk of the $7 million increase, Neil says, is funding to pay for 2016 union contract increases, including back pay. Commissioners approved those increases, but funding wasn't included in the 2016 budget. The increases continue in 2017 as well.
"For contract raises, we're talking almost $4 million for 2016 that was not put into our budget," says Neil.
The Sheriff's Office is also beginning a three-year program to replace its radios.
According to the latest numbers provided to WVXU, the department's 2016 budget was $60,222,269 million. The county estimates the final number for 2016 will be $61,638,811 million. The Sheriff's Department adds the union increases for 2016 and 2017 to be $5,346,920 million. It argues that its 2017 budget would need to be a minimum of $65,569,189 to maintain 2016 numbers.