Cherokee County Commission Chairman/Probate Judge Tim Burgess was in attendance at the Tuesday meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education to address the issue of School Resource Officers. The discussion centered around a letter that was sent to the Board of Education by Burgess explaining what would be covered by the County Commission should they choose to do so.
Burgess presented board members with information in terms of what Commission costs would be and what School Resource Officers would cost based on their step and grade.
Burgess explained that the county has certain costs that they provide for their employees – therefore if there was any funding by the county commission for school resource officers those same benefits would have to be made available to those officers. Those costs include; employee insurance, life insurance, workers compensation and law enforcement insurance. Under workers compensation, the county premium is currently $39, 743 for twenty six employees which is $1, 528.58 per person. For law enforcement insurance $18, 390. 62 that totals to $707.33 for twenty six employees. With medical insurance being $7,004.04 and life insurance, which leaves employee insurance costs of $9,302.35.
In terms of vehicle expense, Burgess said officers would assumedly work 39 weeks at a cost of $50 per week which would cost $1,950 in fuel costs with vehicle maintenance and insurance per vehicle being $500 bringing the total cost for vehicle cost for vehicles to $2,950.
Other continuing expenses would include training, uniform, ammunition and bond, those together total $2,125. With all those figures totaled, the total commission expense per year, per officer would be $14, 377.35.
Mr. Burgess explained that there is some start up expenses associated with the hiring of an officer. The biggest of those expenses is a fully equipped vehicle (that is a vehicle with lights, siren, signage, partition, gun racks, radio, etc) with the total expense being around $30,000. Each officer would also have to be equipped with a hand held radio, uniforms, traffic vests, firearm, tazer, duty gear, ammunition, body cam, flashlights, training, etc. making the total cost to start a deputy $40,850 to equip he or she. Burgess did make clear that the startup cost is a onetime expense.
On the county’s pay scale, school resource officers would be rated as a grade 5. At this time Burgess said it is unclear what step they would fall under. IF all officers hired in as Step 1, the total annual cost $279,974. 69 in salaries and benefits for eight officers. If the school board capped that cost at $250,000 the cost to the commission for salaries would $29,974.69. The commission expense would be the $14,377.35 times eight officers which would be $115,000 with the total commission expense being $144,993 for eight officers on the lower end of the pay scale.
Adding the county’s cost of $144,993, plus the school boards $250,000 would total $394,000 for eight school resource officers on the low end of the pay scale. The total cost for those same eight officers on the higher end of the scale would total $ 546,563.
The suggestion is that the school board fund four officers and the county fund two officers, by having six school resource officers that would save $80,000 in startup costs and also save reoccurring costs each year. Burgess said that he would be more than glad to make that offer to the county commission.
With six officers, it would be all the way to Step 6 on the pay scale before the the school board hit the cap of $250,000 and at that point the commission would begin kicking in their portion for salaries at Step 7. The cost of those six officers at Grade 5 Step 1 would be $296,209 with the county commission portion being $86,000 and the school board portion being $209,000.
School Board members will take the information presented by Judge Burgess and have an opportunity to review it. Burgess will return before the board on Tuesday, September 10 at 4:30 p.m. to entertain questions or concerns.