Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is asking for an additional $38.8 million to run his office next year, saying that much of the money will be used to cover state and federal mandates and to replace aging equipment.
Bradshaw’s $510.1 million spending plan represents an 8.2 percent increase over this year’s budget of $471.3 million. This year’s sheriff’s budget also included an additional $6.8 million carried over from the previous year, bringing Bradshaw’s total allocation to $478.1 million.
The budget, for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, includes an additional $12.2 million for unfunded state and federal requirements, including $3 million that Bradshaw said he must pay into the federal health care system. The office’s retirement costs have increased by more than $8 million, Bradshaw said.
The cost to provide mandatory meals for inmates that require a special diet has grown by $1.2 million, he said. Bradshaw’s budget request also includes $10.6 million to replace aging equipment, and $16 million to cover escalating costs such as fuel prices. The budget includes money for 2.6 million gallons of gasoline.
Bradshaw said his budget request represented the amount needed to “maintain operational minimums.”
“The agency is at its functional floor for funding,” Bradshaw wrote in the proposal, which was sent to the county on Wednesday. “Without adequate funding, this year might be the transition year wherein the quality of life in the county is noticeably impacted.”
In the proposal, Bradshaw said he would not reduce the number of deputies patrolling county streets, despite increasing numbers of services calls to which they respond.
In 2006, the sheriff’s office had 2.46 deputies for every 1,000 calls for service. There are currently 1.3 deputies for every 1,000 calls, according to the budget document.
“The sheriff’s office continues to be successful in addressing and deterring crime,” Bradshaw wrote in the proposal. “This has been accomplished irrespective of diminishing resources.”
Bradshaw’s budget includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for employees. The staff has not received a cost-of-living raise in four years, he said.
Palm Beach County commissioners last month approved similar raises for the county’s Solid Waste Authority.
The commission is expected to discuss the county’s budget, which includes the sheriff’s proposal, during a workshop next month.
Preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits last week show that the county’s tax base grew for the second straight year. Property values were up by 3 percent as of Jan. 1, according to the estimates.
The county, its cities and towns and other taxing authorities use Nikolits’ estimates to project how much revenue they can expect from property taxes in the coming year and to set their tax rates and budgets.