LUBBOCK, Texas – A property tax rate increase to fund salary increases for Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office deputies passed with 57 percent approval in the November 2 election.
The proposal will increase property taxes to about 36 cents per each one hundred dollars of a home’s evaluation, an increase of approximately two cents. That will equal an increase of about $65 per year on the average Lubbock home.
The county says the measure was necessary to make the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office more competitive in light of rising law enforcement salaries. At $41,000 per year, LCSO deputies make less than starting officers at every other law enforcement agency in the region. The Sheriff’s Office claims that discrepancy has cost the LCSO 400 years of experience and millions of dollars in lost training due to attrition.
“Thank you to the Lubbock County voters for walking beside us and saying law enforcement means something in Lubbock County,” County Judge Curtis Parrish said. “We believe in not defunding the police, but in funding them, and making sure those who protect and serve us are well-paid.”
Sheriff Kelly Rowe called the result bittersweet – while he is grateful that his personnel will receive raises, he regrets the necessity of the ballot measure.
“I am thrilled for the Sheriff’s Office and for the personnel that we got this accomplished,” Sheriff Rowe said. “It’s unfortunate it takes a tax increase to do this. But nonetheless, I think this is going to make tremendous strides for us in stemming some of that attrition.”
Sheriff Rowe said his county deputies receive a roughly $8,000 raise, for a starting salary of about $49,000, before Christmas.
Even after this increase is enacted, however, the county will still be behind other law enforcement agencies. The Lubbock Police Department, for example, recently increased their starting pay to $60,000 – $11,000 more than the increased deputy salary. Sheriff Rowe said his goal now is to gradually increase salaries and avoid a pay gap so wide it requires an amount of funding subject to voter approval.
“It’s going to be something that goes into our long-term strategic planning with the Sheriff’s Office and our annual budget planning,” he said. “The prior Commissioner’s Courts failed to act on it, so after the last eight to nine-year period, we ended up getting into the situation that drove what had to happen tonight. Nonetheless, I’m going to do everything I can do to keep us from getting back in that position again… to where the voters aren’t stuck having to make a decision on tax increases.”