Sheriff McKeithen Asking County Commission for $900K

PANAMA CITY-- Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen is asking for County Commission help. The Sheriff says he needs close to a million dollars for essentials to public safety.

McKeithen said, "It's about taking a $1 bill and doing a $5 bill job with it." Bay County Sheriff's Office Major Tommy Ford agrees saying, "We've cut every other expense, forgone the purchase of vehicles, we've done furloughs."

After several years, Sheriff McKeithen is asking the County Commission for assistance. He said, "We have to do something different; we can't keep doing what we are doing."

In his budget request for the coming fiscal year, the Sheriff is asking for a more $907,000 dollar increase over last year's budget. The money will be spent on 30 new patrol cars, a 3% salary increase for employees and nine more detention officers for the County Jail.

He says cost for living have gone up while his employees salaries have been stagnant for the last six years. "At some point when you're not able to pay them, at least the cost of living, they are going to go somewhere else. It has gotten to the point now to where, if these guys can't work off-duty jobs and can't work security jobs, they can't survive," the Sheriff said.

County Commission members have a lot to think about, but County Commissioner George Gainer knows the Sheriff has tried just about everything. "We have to look at the Sheriff's budget real close and we have got to find him some money in there somewhere because I think he's done just about as much as he can with nothing," Gainer said.

The Sheriff has requested a budget of about $34.8 million compared to last year's $33.9 million budget. Budgeting hearings begin July 1st.