For a growing number of Pasco deputies, the trip from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to the Tampa Police Department is worth the drive—worth up to $10,000.00, immediately.
According to the Tampa Police Department, at least 18 Pasco deputies have left their jobs to become police officers in the past two years.
It's a situation that worries Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.
"The one thing that is a common theme for everybody is no pay raises," the sheriff said.
Last week, the sheriff submitted his new budget proposal to the Pasco County Commission.
Nocco asked for an additional 3.5 percent to deal with increasing fuel and insurance costs. It did not include pay raises for deputies and other agency employees.
In his budget letter, he wrote "...I would again request you look into salary adjustments for our members, as this is the fifth straight year with no step increase or cost of living increase."
Nocco said he understands the frustration of another year with no raises. Likewise, he doesn't blame some for leaving.
"They've got families to feed. If they can earn more money at another agency I can't say '...hey stay here,' " Nocco said.
The alarming number of departures to a neighboring agency is raising concern among county commissioners.
"Obviously, we do not like to lose good law enforcement talent," said commission chair Ann Hildebrand. She suggested deputies have good company.
"No has gotten a raise here. We've had to lay people off," she said.
Sheriff's Office employees are paid through property tax collections.
"Our property values have not begun to go up. They've decreased, so we're going to have to provide more services with less money," Nocco said.
Nocco suggests the county may save money by not awarding raises, but actually loses in the long run.
"For our taxpayers, they're losing taxpayer money that we're investing in good people and it's also quality. We're starting brand new with a brand new person on the street," Nocco said.
Budget battles between the Pasco Sheriff's Office and County Commission are nothing new. Last year, former Sheriff Bob White fought for $4 million to hire new deputies, saying the department was understaffed.
The commissioners rejected his request. White appealed to the state, but dropped the battle after the two side reached a deal. White retired a short time later.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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