By SHERI GASSAWAY
Festus, MO – The Jefferson County Labor Club has endorsed Proposition P to raise funds for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to increase deputy pay and manpower.
Prop P, which will be on the April 3 ballot, is expected to generate about $7 million a year for the department through a new real estate tax of 35-cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $66 a year or 18 cents a day. The tax would only be imposed on property owners in unincorporated Jefferson County who are served by the department.
Sheriff Dave Marshak said passage of the measure would avoid what’s becoming a crisis in Jefferson County where trained, quality officers are leaving the department for better pay elsewhere. Last month, the department lost three officers in one week to higher paying agencies. Last year, 15 officers resigned.
The current starting pay for a deputy in Jefferson County is $37,900 and in 10 years they max out at $46,000. To be competitive with other agencies, Marshak said the department needs to offer starting salaries of $50,000 to $52,000 that top out in the $70,000 range.
The only other tax the department benefits from is a half-cent sales tax, which was approved in 1988. It generates about $11.5 million a year. However, department officials say sales taxes have been flat in recent years, with the county’s population growing faster than sales tax revenue.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office patrols 93 percent of the county’s 660 square miles and serves 73 percent of the county’s population, handling over 65,000 calls for service each year.
On average, only 11 Sheriff’s deputies are on duty across the entire unincorporated area of Jefferson County.
For more information on Prop P or to donate to the campaign, visit friendsoflejeffco.org.