CALLAWAY COUNTY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Voters in Callaway County approved two half-cent sales tax propositions on Tuesday's ballot to increase law enforcement pay and fund capital improvements for criminal justice centers.
"It's a game-changer," said Sheriff Clay Chism. "Not only for community safety but for officer safety."
The approval of Proposition 1 will allow the sheriff's department to add eight road deputies over the next two years and raise salaries to a more competitive level.
"The starting pay for road deputies had fallen so far behind to some adjoining agencies in the Boone and Cole county areas," Chism said.
He said hiring more deputies will take some time as the deputy training program is a minimum of four months and the office has a limited number of training officers.
"It's not just hand them the car keys and tell them to go," he said. "We have a very extensive training program."
He said the sheriff's office is working to get its 2020 budget approved. The office had delayed finalizing the budget until after the election results came out.
The department is working on comprehensive salary studies with competing agencies in mid-Missouri but doesn't have any definitive charts for exactly how much salaries will increase, Chism said.
The approval of Proposition 2 will fund building a new Callaway County Justice Center, expanding the Callaway County Law Enforcement Center and transitioning the existing courthouse into a County Government Center.
Chism said the current jail was built in 1989 and has not had any major renovations. He said the future construction project will allow the jail to double its general population capacity to the upwards of 150 inmates.