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Date of Issue: May 19, 2005

No misprint, MCSO proposes contract decrease in Anna Maria

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn thought there must be a typographical error when she first saw the proposed Manatee County Sheriff's Office draft budget for law enforcement services for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

But it was no misprint.

The MCSO has actually proposed a decrease in its annual contract with the city.

After several years of double-digit increases in the MCSO contract, the proposal for 2005-06 calls for a $579,000 contract, a decrease of $4,380 from last year's cost.

"I was expecting a 10 to 15 percent increase,"said SueLynn, "and certainly a contract of more than $600,000. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised and I'm sure commissioners will be, too.”

The contract decline was fueled by a decrease in senior MCSO deputies serving in Anna Maria. Long-time MCSO Deputy Jules Dengler is retiring, and the draft budget noted that several other senior deputies have been replaced with deputies at a lower pay scale. The total for MCSO personnel services declined $12,500, from $522,600 to $510,100.

Total operating expenses for the MCSO in Anna Maria will rise from $60,670 to $68,850 under the proposed budget.

For the past several years the city has been asking the MCSO to look at ways the budget could be reduced. At one point, the city commission even considered dropping one deputy from the current one-supervisor/six-deputy rotation, but that idea was nixed to ensure deputies could adequately patrol the city.

The mayor and commission had even requested that junior deputies be assigned to Anna Maria, but the MCSO response was that only senior deputies wanted the post, while junior deputies - at a lower pay scale - wanted to be assigned where they could gain promotions and honors faster.

"At least it indicates that the MCSO has been listening to our concerns,"said the mayor of the contract proposal.

"It's also going to have a big effect on our budget this year,"she added. "We're not going to have that big increase for law enforcement that we've come to expect."