St. Johns County sheriff requests $13M budget increase, plans to boost deputy starting salaries by $3K

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick presented his budget proposal for the next fiscal year to the county commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.

St. Johns County is one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing counties in Florida, and Hardwick is asking the county for $118 million, which is a $13 million increase from the current budget.

Hardwick said he wants to ensure that the sheriff’s office can keep up with its growing demand.

The extra funds will be distributed throughout the department with the biggest focus being raising the starting pay for deputies. The proposal includes an additional $4 million for salaries and an additional $5 million in retirement benefits.

“I think it’s important to raise the starting pay as the price of eggs, milk, and cheese and the cost of just living is up in St. Johns County,” Hardwick said.

The sheriff wants to give deputies a $3,000 pay increase, bumping starting deputy salaries from $52,000 to $55,000. Hardwick also wants to hire 22 additional officers.

“I feel like the more we bring into the sheriff’s office, it makes it easier to market that price tag at $55,000. The problem is when you go to the Duval County sheriff’s office, they may start just a little bit lower than us, but their five-year mark they’re about $10,000 more than us,” Hardwick said. “But as your sheriff and working with the board of county commissioners over my term and the next term. I think we get it to where we’re competitive and comparative.”

Some of the money will go toward upgrading equipment like radios and body cameras.

Hardwick said the upgrades are needed to secure public safety as the county continues to expand.

Part of the additional funding will also go toward capital expenses, which can include building and car improvements.

Commissioners did not vote Tuesday on the budget. The county’s property appraiser and clerk of courts will present their budgets June 20 before the Commission votes on the final county budget.

To read the sheriff’s full budget proposal, click here.

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