Brown County Sheriff Vance Hill said he’s pleased that the budget for the new fiscal year contains $4,000-a-year pay raises for deputies and also has funds for two additional patrol deputies.

Commissioners Court members approved salary increases Monday for the deputies. The budget, which will be adopted later this month and takes effect Oct. 1, also contains pay raises for elected officials and other county employees of $2,000 or 5 percent, whichever is greater, for the new year.

Brown County Judge Paul Lilly said the deputies' pay raises were approved “to try and bring our deputies into closer proximity with competing local agencies so that we lower the turnover rate, which ultimately will save us money and equipment and time.”

Hill also said deputy Saydie Hammonds, who has been doing environmental enforcement in addition to patrol duties, will become a full-time environmental deputy.

Hill said the sheriff’s office had a good budget session with the commissioners court.

“They see and understand the challenges that I’m faced with, whether it be the salary or the lack of deputies,” Hill said. “I went in asking for two patrol deputies and a $6,800 per year raise for each deputy. I got the two additional patrol deputies, an additional patrol vehicle and $4,000 a year raise for my deputies.

“I think it’s just great that the commissioners court did all that they could do to help out in the situation that I’m facing as the sheriff.”

Hill said he anticipates seeking additional raises for deputies next year.

The sheriff said he anticipates having an easier time hiring deputies with the pay raises. He said the sheriff’s office has been the lowest paid agency in the county and it has been difficult to fill vacancies.

The two new deputies will mean “additional patrol,” Hill said. “It’s an officer safety issue. We’re now going to have a minimum of two deputies 24 hours a day. We’re to the point now where we’re receiving so many calls for service that those calls for service are just having to sit there until we’re actually able to respond. So that’s going to increase all of our response to non emergency calls or calls for service.”

Hill said Hammonds has done an excellent job in a part-time role as environment deputy, and he’s excited to see what she can accomplish full-time in the role.