Henry County’s proposed annual operating budget for the upcoming 2019-2020 fiscal year includes ten new police officers; however, discussion among the county commissioners expressed support for additional positions. District I Commissioner Johnny Wilson recommended ten additional positions be added to hire a total of twenty new officers and proposed a 0.25 millage rate increase to pay for the new positions.
Commissioner Wilson remarked “if we [increase the millage] 0.25 for these officers, according to my numbers, with a $250,000 assessment on a home, its about four cents [per] day increase in their tax rate. That’s pretty good money spent for ten police officers.”
Henry County Police Chief Mark Amerman was present during the meeting and answered questions from the board. When asked how many vacancies exist within the police department, he shared there are seven vacancies for investigators and zero vacancies for officers. The investigator positions will be filled with existing officers then new officers recruited to backfill the positions. The number of vacancies was over thirty officers sixteen months ago when Amerman was selected to be chief.
Chief Amerman commented that, based on call volume and response time, the department needs one hundred additional officers. Amerman remarked he would like to add twenty officers per year until that target is met.
The cost to hire and train a new police officer totals $137,000 during the first year of service. That amount includes all requirements for the hiring process, training classes, all equipment including a patrol car, uniforms, and the first year of salary.
Commissioner Bruce Holmes added he agrees about adding additional officers and “I wouldn’t be opposed to a slight increase in the millage to pay for it.” Commissioner Dee Clemmons and Chair June Wood also commented their support to hire additional police officers.
The board of commissioners has a workshop meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, at 9 am to discuss the county budget. The budget is required to be adopted before the end of May. Public hearings to set the millage rate will be held in July.