Florence County's public safety vs. tax dollars

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) The Florence County Sheriff's Office gave its deputies a raise. And now your taxes are going up.

"You know, we lose good deputies that are doing a great for us simply because they were not being paid equal to what they could earn in another jurisdiction," Florence County Council Chairman James Schofield said.

This is the problem Florence County Chairman James Schofield says was facing the Florence County Sheriff's Office just months ago.

"You've got to be competitive is just like businesses, if someone is paying a higher wage for a certain service that's where people are going to go to work," Schofield said.

Major Michael Nunn with Florence County Sheriff's Office says for the past nine years, raises were not given at the Sheriff's Office, causing some deputies to look for other agencies paying higher wages to support their families.

"You ask people to go out there and be a deputy to come fight for you come and protect you. You know do that kind of work and you've to pay them comparable pay to other agencies like the highway patrol for example," Schofield said.

WMBF News found out what the starting salary is for a beginning officer with the State Highway Patrol, Florence Police and the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

The City of Florence pays beginning officers on average $31,000.

State Highway Patrol matches the City of Florence at about $31,000.

But the least paid starting officer is the Florence County, paying on average $27,000.

Council members said compatible pay to other agencies throughout the department was lacking, too.

One way county council fixed this is by raising Waste Management fees.

Now, $13.50 is tacked on to how much the people of Florence County are charged to get rid of garbage, bringing the total Waste Management fee to $99.50 per year.

County Council also decided to add an extra mill onto taxes.

Council says the Waste Management fee had to go up because in past, the fee collected to upkeep waste management services had not been enough.

To help cover waste management operations, money is taken from the general fund.

The increased fee of $13.50 and the additional mill of tax allows for the Sheriff's Office to get raises.

County Council said the extra mill of tax is about $4 per year on a $100,000 home.

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