Norfolk takes aim at sheriff’s deputy turnover with proposed tax hike

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office is made up of 368 deputies but numbers obtained by 10 On Your Side show 328 deputies have left over the last five years.

Sheriff Joe Baron says most of them left voluntarily for better pay in cities like Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, where deputies can earn $8,000-$10,000 more each year.

Baron urged the city council at a recent budget hearing to approve a 10-cent real estate tax increase, which includes about $3 million to boost city wages.

Under the plan, deputies would see about a five percent increase plus a $500 bonus for each year of service. The city has outlined caps on salaries based on different ranks.

“The City of Norfolk has long had a history of waiting until the wheels fall off before we do anything about a problem,” Baron told the council.

The sheriff’s office annual attrition rate sits at 17 percent compared to the city’s rate of 13 percent, according to the sheriff’s office.

Baron says his office recruits and trains new deputies who leave within a couple years.

The following numbers show how many deputies have left the office over the past five years:

  • 2013 – 48 deputies
  • 2014 – 65 deputies
  • 2015 – 72 deputies
  • 2016 – 65 deputies
  • 2017 – 78 deputies

“We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Baron said.

The 10-cent proposed real estate tax increase includes:

  • $5 million – Norfolk Public Schools
  • $3.8 million – Replace aging vehicles
  • $3.5 million – St. Paul’s public housing overhaul
  • $3 million – Increase city wages
  • $1.8 million – Flooding
  • $1.2 million – Norfolk Police Department

Mayor Kenny Alexander says he still has “a lot of questions” to make sure the projects are worthy of the investment before passing the burden onto taxpayers.

Alexander says the city has a lot of debt, a roughly $19 million annual payment, and aging infrastructure that needs to be addressed.

The public is invited to a public hearing on the FY2019 budget at City Hall on Thursday, May 10 at 6 p.m.

The council will vote on a final budget May 22.

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