The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office announced a $123.5 million annual budget Monday for 2014-15 that includes raises for all employees but is largely unchanged from the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Sheriff Newell Normand said his employees should benefit from what looks like a rebounding economy in Jefferson Parish but warned the full economic impact of the 2010 BP oil spill is still unknown.
Sheriff’s Office employees are getting raises of between 2 percent and 6.5 percent, bringing the average starting salary of a patrol deputy to $36,015.
Normand called the raises “long overdue” and said they would bring salaries in line with what other area agencies are paying, but he said any future increases would require additional funding.
The JPSO has a staff of about 1,450. Salaries and benefits are budgeted at $96.6 million and make up 79 percent of all expenditures. Normand said health care and pension costs continue to rise.
The budget estimates that revenue will be flat at $119.6 million, with $50.7 million coming from taxes and $50.4 million from fees and charges.
The budget assumes 1 percent growth in sales and property tax collections, an estimate characterized as conservative. The JPSO expects to take in $28.2 million in property taxes and $22.6 million in sales taxes.
Expenditures are up 3 percent to $123.5 million, but with transfers made from its salary stabilization fund, the 2014-15 budget has a deficit of only $1,100.
The JPSO is budgeted to end next year with $49 million in its general and salary stabilization funds, down from $51.3 million at the end of this year. Normand said that at 40 percent of expenditures, that figure is well above what public entities are expected to keep on hand.
The capital outlay budget of $4.4 million is primarily for vehicles and equipment; the department replaces patrol cars at least every five years.
On the economy, Normand said the current fiscal year saw several months with modest increases in sales tax collections, noting that motor vehicle purchases are picking up.
He also pointed out new business announcements and expansions in the chemical sector and said the widening of the Huey P. Long Bridge has boosted the surrounding communities on both ends.
On the other hand, he warned that the looming closure of Avondale Shipyards and the ongoing effect of the BP oil spill on Gulf of Mexico fisheries are concerns.
“The initial environmental signs have been somewhat positive; however, hurricanes and winter storms prove that oil is still submerged in some of the coastal marshes,” he said. “Hopefully, the fishing areas will recover fully soon and the slowdown in offshore drilling will be completely reversed.”
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.