SAN ANTONIO — The Bexar County sheriff is asking for money to cover overtime he blames on a lack of staff.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Javier Salazar will ask Bexar County commissioners to approve overtime in order to make up for what he says amounts to hundreds of deputies being out due to COVID-19.
The Bexar County Jail has chewed up lots of taxpayer money. The sheriff has received criticism for conditions at the jail, due to overcrowding and staffing issues.
The millions of dollars spent in overtime at the jail is due to staffing issues, according to Salazar.
“People are resigning jobs in droves. That’s something that we’ve seen here too… Add to that that we’re in the midst of a huge wave of retirements, people (who) came on in the early '90s are in retirement age,” Sheriff Salazar said.
Sheriff Salazar says the pandemic hasn’t helped either.
“Not all of those people have COVID, some of those people have COVID and we’re waiting on a negative test to come in. But right now as it stands we’ve got about 200 people out due to COVID issues, and so that’s what’s adding up to all our overtime issues,” Sheriff Salazar said.
On Tuesday, the sheriff will ask for another quarter of his already approved overtime budget. The cost is roughly $2.8 million, according to county documents.
The documents state if the sheriff’s office continues the burn rate of overtime, they could spend nearly $14 million on overtime, which would mean going about $6 million over budget.
Sheriff Salazar hopes that a pay increase, which was recently approved as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the sheriff’s deputies union, will recruit more talent.
“I’m extremely ecstatic about it because things like that are what’s going to help us close that gap sooner rather than later,” Sheriff Salazar said.
More deputies added in the jail means more deputies already there can now get onto the street.
Jeremy Payne, president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County, says if that problem can be addressed first, it can improve public safety.
“If we don’t fix that one element, it has implications for higher crime and it puts my deputies out on the streets in unsafe positions because they don’t have enough people for backup to protect themselves and you as a community,” Payne said.
The discussion will continue Tuesday in front of county commissioners.