News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Thursday, September 12th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- What does it take to keep you safe? This year it was right around 57 million dollars for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and 23 million for the Fire Department.
Next year it could cost even more. Thursday, the Sheriff and Fire Chief presented their budgets for next year.
Tasers, body cameras, and new police cars are just some of the things included in the Sheriff's 2014 budget.
"I put together a budget based on what we do the responsibilities and the challenges that we face,"said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
On the fire side Chief Chris James asked for new breathing apparatuses, safer uniforms and new radios.
"We purchased some last year, but we need to continue that purchase so we can have more on the fire department," said James.
It's all equipment they say is necessary to keep you safe and city leaders agree.
"We've got equipment that are 10-15 years old that we need to upgrade," said Commissioner Grady Smith.
But equipment wasn't the big thing on everyone's mind.
"These officers haven't gotten a raise in 5 years," said Sheriff Roundtree.
"It's been several years since there's been a cost of living raise," added James.
Both the sheriff and the fire chief asked five percent raises for employees.
"We're showing you a product," explained Roundtree. "I told them when I came at the beginning of the year and said I'm gonna ask for a raise, I said I'm gonna come with a product and we showed that. Our homicide rate is down, our traffic fatality rate is down, our burglary rate is down and that's through work."
"When you go several years without a cost of living increase those are real dollars that affect people's living," added James.
They say it also keeps Richmond County from being competitive across the state.
"Not only do we have new firefighters that sometimes leave we may have some with several years of experience that may leave," said James.
Sheriff Roundtree added, "We're not trying to pad the wallet of officers. We're just trying to make this city safer by retaining the best ones that we have."
It'll be up to city leaders to decide whether to spend millions more than last year to keep those people and give them better equipment.
"When you have some of the things that happen around this town it's time to give our sheriff what he needs and then that way there's no excuses," said Commissioner Smith.
The Commissioners will hear from all city departments over the next two weeks. They will then discuss and make decisions most likely in October.
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