San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 30th, 2009
County seeks stimulus for sheriff's office

News Reporter

Pleading that his office is understaffed, Hays County Sheriff Tommy Ratliff prevailed upon the county commissioners to seek federal stimulus money for the hiring of 12 new deputies. Commissioners concurred last week, asking Ratliff to put together an application package for their later approval.

Many of the federal stimulus programs are just now being rolled out to local level governments. Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) congratulated the Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for “ … jumping on this.  We are one of the fastest growing counties in the country and we need more officers on the street.”

Ratliff told commissioners that the cost to equip train and pay a dozen deputies would come to nearly $1.3 million. However, Ratliff added, the procurement of available stimulus money would bring the county’s cost down to about $500,000. One grant would cover deputy salaries for three years. That grant would be contingent on the county hiring all 12 deputies. An additional $60,000 grant would help pay for the initial training and equipping of the new deputies.

“Absolutely, we are understaffed,” Ratliff said. “We have 111 commissioned officers. The Texas state average is 1.9 officers per thousand (citizens). Minus San Marcos and Kyle, the county has a population of around seventy five thousand. That’s according to 2007 numbers. I would need 35 to 40 new officers to get to where we need to be.”

The federal grant is meant to spur quick hiring of law enforcement, with an application deadline of April 14. The government takes 90 days to process the application, meaning the county wouldn’t know until the middle of July if the application has been approved. Then, the HCSO has to advertise and interview the candidates. Ratliff said HCSO likely wouldn’t hire until late this year, so the extra cost wouldn’t likely hit until Fiscal Year 2010.

Commissioners were concerned about trying to fit the extra $500,000 into the next budget. Additionally, commissioners wondered if the entire dozen officers could be hired in the time allowed under the grant. However, the court gave the HSCO the go ahead to finalize the grant application. The court will work out details at a later meeting.

The court also approved the creation of a new sergeant in the HCSO.

The standard patrol shift consists of twenty-two deputies. Ratliff said that because of the technical nature of this job, leaving the current sergeant in charge of so many officers simultaneously is “Putting him in a position for failure.”

The government grant would not help pay for the new sergeant, as it is specifically allocated for the hiring of new deputy level positions. But, from salary savings within the HCSO, Ratliff said, the promotion wouldn’t come at any extra cost to the county this year.

The court unanimously approved the new sergeant position.

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0 thoughts on “County seeks stimulus for sheriff's office

  1. Barton, “We are one of the fastest growing counties in the country and we need more officers on the street.”

    Shooting from the hip again. By what measurement does Barton make this statement to spend more public money?

  2. What happens when the stimulus money dries up? In some parts of the bill, once the initial money is gone goverment’s can’t cut back for up to 5 years. “What are we going to do when the stimulus is gone?” is the question the Com. Court needs to be asking.

  3. Mr Odell doen’t want any more deputies on the road so that he has more time for a getaway next time they are after him.

  4. Why Mr. PHD – I’m shocked! You haven’t done your research – again.

    Why it is not Barton “shooting from the hip,” but rather the US Census that has listed Hays County as one of the 100 fastest growing counties in the United States based on percentage growth between the years 2000 and 2007.

    Don’t you know how to Google?

  5. Can we PLEASE not have another thread devolve into another O’Dell-Lila hatefest? Just stop this crazy train before it leaves the station.

  6. What happens after the grant money runs out in three years? Will we be left paying the 1.3 million plus there on after?

  7. The $1.3 million is to equip, train AND pay the additional officers. The story is not written very clearly. One grant covers 3 years. Once the officers are hired, the equipping and training would not have to be done on an annual basis. So the actual breakdown per year after the grant runs out is not apparent. But it is obviously not $1.3 million per year.

    But that is a good question.

  8. Thanks Ms. Knight for the info, once again you have the pulse of the county at you finger tips.

  9. Ms. Knight, is the county still required to come up with $500,000 to match the stimulus? But how much for training and equipment versus actual pay over three years or do we pay the salaries separate form the stimulus plus our $500,000 to train and equip?

  10. No Lila, you can stop. You don’t need conditions to disengage from futility. Just be a grownup, accept that some people are going to disagree, and move on.

    I swear what you and O’Dell must really love is the sound of your own voices, instead of being “right.”

  11. Ray – I don’t know the answer to your question. The article was not written very clearly. Sounds like the County is in for at least $500,000. initially. (or $500,000 minus $60,000. It’s just not very clearly stated). And I have no idea how much after that. Once the minutes are available from the meeting, they should state the County’s ultimate cost more clearly. Notice, I said “should.”

    Not Again – Are you trying to pick a fight? LOL

  12. Not Again, Lila even though quite opinionated, is a solid citizen who is not afraid to speak her mind!

  13. Well I have to visit my friends in Canada for two weeks so until then everyone be safe and kind.

  14. I never insinuated that she was stupid. I did insinuate that it is a profoundly stupid thing to engage Charles O’Dell on any issue because nothing good ever comes of it. No matter what it becomes a rhetorical slapfight that monopolizes and consumes any thread.

    It just isn’t worth it, not with him. There’s no point and nothing productive happens. That’s all. Speaking ones mind is all well and good, but its not worth it to speak to some people at all.

  15. That was actually very well put “Not Again.” I would have to agree with you, even though I have trouble practicing it. I also instinctively swat at gnats. LOL Just can’t help myself…sigh

    And gee people, you make me blush. Thanks. I’ve had a really bad day. And now reading your blogs have put a nice spin on the end of it. How very nice.

  16. Lia darling,

    Of course the county population has been growing…even you know that…but so has the Sheriff’s Department, and they have better equipment that make them more effective…meaning it takes fewer officers per unit of population.

    Commissioner Bargain was saying there is a linear relationship between population and the number of officers needed. More population…more officers needed. Not so.

    Improved communications, analysis and planning, faster response time, and other technology driven gains mean increased officer productivity. A farmer using more modern equipment and techniques can farm more acres with the same labor. An officer using more modern equipment and techniques can serve more people.

    Cliches just demonstrate a lack of understanding. They may sound good, but they are misleading and uninformed.

    I repeat: By what measurement does Barton make this statement to spend more public money?

  17. Not Again, not only, I understand your paradigm but perhaps the muses will shine upon you and your words will not fall upon deaf ears. Tally Ho!

  18. Thanks Lila, and I do owe you an apology for being harsh. It’s not you. It’s him, and I can’t blame you for stepping up and taking a few swings. I just really like this paper, and I like the comments. I just hate seeing things degrade, and I probably just contributed to that myself.

    Sorry I came off so harsh before.

  19. Maybe it is possible for the moderator to remove O’dell’s comments. I would actually support that form of censorship. It would be for the good of the public!

  20. I know that comment was made in jest, and I apologize in advance if this comes off as preachy, but censorship is rarely, if ever, in the public good. Everyone has the right to express their opinion, and we are happy to provide a forum.

    Dr. O’Dell has a right to voice his opinions, however controversial and inflammatory they may be. People are either free to engage him in debate, or not. Usually, in my opinion at least, the best remedy for these things is to let people speak their peace, and move along.

  21. I dont see a problem with taking advantage of the stimulus dollars, since it was a problem we were going to have to address in the near future. I understand the apprehension behind how we’re going to pay the salaries of 12 new deputies, but we were going to have to hire on deputies anyway.. might as well take advantage of the free money now. Perhaps next, we can lobby the state. The state does have provision that allow for municipalities to get money for law enforcement, that we may not be taking full advantage of.

  22. “Only a fool knows everything. A wise man knows how little he knows.” Maybe someone should check out the Commissioners Court agenda to see exactly who sponsored this agenda item in the first place. I, for one, don’t know the answer.

    I’m taking the advise of “Not Again” and just going to bed. I’m tired. But I will leave you with one more quote – from one of my favorites, Mark Twain – what a dear, dear man – “The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that lightning ain’t distributed right.”

  23. Joshua,

    You silly boy. Who would be left to provide comment with content?

    If you are seeking only folks who share the same view…then join a club.

    If, on the other hand, you are seeking discussion then post something constructive.

    This is the real world. Welcome to it.

  24. Thanks, you silly man. Maybe you are the one who should join a club. Oh, that’s right…you have one. Isn’t it the infamous HAYS CAN?

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