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With more than 25 employee vacancies in the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, deputies are asking Sumter County Council for an increase in pay.
Eight deputies attended a council meeting on Tuesday, where Councilman Eugene Baten and Chairman Jim McCain went back and forth about where the county would pull the money from to budget for the request.
Baten motioned to pass an emergency budget amendment and discussion, saying they "need to do something now" as more criminals are being housed in the understaffed detention center, which the sheriff's office operates.
McCain said all of county council is in favor of the budget amendment but that they need to figure out where to get the money from.
Baten said the county can get "creative" in getting the money, and McCain said he will push for the increase once they find a source.
"Words are nothing if there is no action," Baten said.
Councilman Charles Edens noted the Sumter County Sheriff's Office has not made an official proposal on the issue to present to council. It did provide salary details to the county.
Council unanimously approved to discuss the amendment adjustment.
"I'm pleased to hear the council is open to discuss the salary increases," Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said after that vote during the public comments portion of the meeting.
He asked council to consider that the salary reflects the level of work the sheriff's office does, especially with a recent increase in criminal activity in Sumter County.
Project Combine passes second of three readings
In other news, council also unanimously approved second reading of a new tax incentive project that could bring an estimated $26 million in investment and job opportunities to Sumter County.
The ordinance authorization for the execution of a fee-in-lieu-of-tax and incentive agreement is between Sumter County and a company identified so far as Project Combine. The company is using a code name as it undergoes the three readings required for final approval, as is typical for such agreements.
The company anticipates it will invest at least $26 million in the community and create at least 10 new full-time jobs within the county. It is not yet known whether the project is a new business or the expansion of an existing one.
2040 Comprehensive Plan deferred so changes can be made
Council also unanimously moved to defer second reading of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan during the meeting.
Since the last meeting, the land use committee received comments from council to change certain language in the plan before it is passed. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan is expected to pass by the end of 2019.
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