BROWN COUNTY, Texas — During his presentation of his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the Brown County Sheriff told the Brown County Commissioners on Monday that his deputies have been severely underpaid for far too long.
Sheriff Vance Hill is asking the Brown County Commissioners for $480,000 in salary increases for his licensed peace officers, which excludes himself and two chief deputies.
In justifying the hike, Hill said that he is tired of the Brown County Sheriff’s Department's top talent leaving and top recruits choosing to apply elsewhere.
"This is experience that I'm losing,” Hill said on Monday. “It's hurting not only the department, but the citizens as far as the type of service that they get from us."
Hill's overall proposal includes an additional $615,000 in funding from Brown County.
Besides the pay bump, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office is seeking to replace three vehicles at an estimated cost of $125,324 and five tasers at a cost of $5,866.
In addition, Hill is hoping to promote two current sergeants to lieutenants and move a patrol corporal to patrol sergeant as part of a plan to restructure the rank.
The total cost of the promotions would be $3,600, according to the budget proposal.
However, the bulk of the proposed budget's increase is employee pay and Hill is seeking to give each of his licensed employees a $7,500 per year pay hike.
"It's time that something needs to be done to make the playing field fair with all the other law enforcement agencies, especially in this county," Hill said.
According to Hill, a Brownwood Police Department police officer with a decade of experience and a master's certification earns approximately $52,000 per year, while a Brown County Sheriff's Deputy with a similar resume makes nearly $39,000 annually.
To continue driving his point home, Hill said that a Brownwood Police Department dispatcher earns thousands of dollars more than a Brown County correctional officer despite the fact that the latter occupation is a far more dangerous job.
"Dispatch, they have a high stress job," Hill said. "My jailers have a high stress job, but added to that, they get assaulted, things that dispatch doesn't get."
Hill also said at the Brown County Commissioners' meeting that he was "disappointed" that Brown County Judge Ray West did not attend the meeting since he was so receptive to the idea of salary increases.
Brown County Commissioner Wayne Shaw said at the meeting that West could not attend the meeting because he was not "feeling well."