News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta Commissioners are trying to find out how to give Sheriff Roundtree a $1 million more in his 2015 budget.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree said deputies are leaving for better paying jobs.
The News 12 investigation team is uncovering why Richmond County Deputies are leaving and where they're going. Officials say saving nickels and dimes is the name of the game for Augusta's city budget.
The proposed 2014 budget is $147 million.
Fifty six million dollars go to the Richmond County Sheriff's office and that's a nearly 40 percent of the pie. Sheriff Richard Roundtree said he needs an additional $1.4 million in raises for deputies.
"Our goal is to make sure we are competitive with other agencies," said RCSO Lt. Lewis Blanchard.
Blanchard spoke for the local Police Benevolent Association. A group that represents deputies like the ones in Richmond County.
He said the group agrees with Sheriff Roundtree's request and that the department has a total of 40 unfilled positions and it's causing other deputies to work longer hours.
"It's not just that. It's are we doing the right thing at this time? We have people who have stayed with us the entire time and at the end they'll tell us the pay wasn't fair," said Lt. Blanchard.
We wanted to find out why so we requested all exit interviews done since 2011 to 2013. It was hundreds of pages.
News 12 went through 20 exit interviews. We found nine left for better paying jobs with five retiring. One deputy quit while another transferred to a new city department. An employee left to open a business and two went back to school. The last exit interview state the deputy left to spend more time with family.
At least two deputies left for Columbia County Sheriff's office. In Columbia County deputies can start at $15.24 an hour but in Augusta, they stand to make $13.50 an hour. Others left for security jobs at Plant Vogtle and other agencies making anywhere from $18 to $24 dollars an hour.
Homeowners say the commission needs to spend wisely.
"I think our commissioners aren't doing their job. They get in here and want to solve everything in here," said Homeowner James Pounds. "When you talk about taking my taxes up again. It means I got to cut something lose in my house to keep the taxes paid."
Commissioner Alvin Mason said he supports the raises, but the Sheriff needs to identify where the money will come from.