New deputies, firefighters, other county personnel cleared for hiring as of June 1


The county will move forward with hiring six new road deputies and nine firefighters as of June 1.

The new hires, along with other county positions including those to staff the new golf course, had been in a holding pattern as the county commission weighed the impact of the more than $1 million budget shortfall after a mistaken $307 million tax valuation on a vacant lot skewed the county and school board budgets.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, commissioners heard that the county had saved $1.9 million from not spending on budgeted positions until the third quarter.
“Other revenues are performing better than expected, which helped overcome the ad valroem problem,” said Brandy King, the county’s finance officer.
After determining they will have money to pay for the positions this year and next, commissioners made a motion to move forward with the new hires as of June 1 – if the audit committee approved.
The scheduling was a bit reversed with commissioners meeting a day before the audit committee, but the audit committee – made up of constitutional officers – gave a thumbs up at their meeting on Wednesday after reviewing the financials.
Sheriff Jared Miller has stressed his need for six new road deputies – though he was given the OK earlier to hire three new dispatchers with medical training as required under a new state law.
Wakulla Fire-Rescue will be able to hire a whole new engine company to staff the new station in the eastern part of the county.
And the county has two maintenance positions to fill, plus 21 full-time equivalent positions to staff the new Wakulla Sands Golf Course when it opens Aug. 16.
In the audit committee, Clerk of Court Greg James has been most conservative about the budgetary impacts of the new hires, especially on next year’s budget.
After reviewing the financial information last week, he said: “I think it’s a good plan. But does everything work as it’s supposed to? No.”
Sheriff Miller asked James about his concerns.
“My concern is in a year,” James said. “But I don’t have significant concern to the point I would vote no.”
The sheriff made a motion to move forward, saying: “Selfishly, I need the positions.’
The motion was seconded by Property Appraiser Ed Brimner, and approved with the votes of Tax Collector Lisa Craze and Commission Chair Quincee Messersmith. (Supervisor of Elections Joe Morgan was absent due to surgery.)
While ad valorem revenues were below projections, the county was bolstered by a $1.15 million increase in Fiscally Constrained County payments from the state; an increase of $413,000 in the half-cent sales tax; and an increase in revenues from the Public Service Tax of $323,000.