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Several Brazos County residents spoke out at a public hearing Tuesday in favor of a possible tax increase, but only if the extra money would go towards one thing.
" I would urge you to do the wise and prudent thing and that is support Sheriff Kirk's request for salary increases for the deputies," said a Brazos County resident.
One by one residents spoke before county commissioners in favor of Sheriff Kirk's request for pay raises for his department. From former council members, to business owners, all sang the praises of Brazos County's Sheriff department.
" We're lucky to have such an efficient and professional sheriff's department," said one Brazos County resident.
But many residents fear it won't stay that way if the department can't keep up with its city counterparts on the salary scale. Sheriff deputies make between 15 and nearly 40 percent less than police officers in Bryan and College Station. And Sheriff Kirk makes about $41,000 less than the chief of police in both cities.
" 20 percent is what we believe would be a fair increase in salary," said Sheriff Kirk.
An original budget proposal by Judge Randy Sims only allotted for a ten percent increase. But commissioners voted to increase Sims proposed tax rate of 45.25 cents to 46.50 cents per $100.
Some residents say they wouldn't mind the increase in the tax rate if it means keeping quality officers here in Brazos County.
" I'm in favor of that tax increase. There are some things that I'm not always thrilled about paying taxes for but this one of those things that is a necessity," said a former Bryan councilman.
Commissioner Kenny Mallard says he the decision to raise taxes is tough, but needed.
" I don't know that anybody is happy if they have to pay a little more in taxes, but I think they'll be willing to do that to see the salaries up for the sheriff," said Mallard.
The additional revenue the new tax rate would bring is a good sign for Sheriff Kirk but he is not going to celebrate just yet.
The county has set two new public hearings for the tax rate for September 7 and September 12. A final announcement about the budget will be made September 20.
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