Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams asked City Council for $3.5 million more than they were given for last year’s budget –to pay for more deputies, civilian personnel, an accounting firm and a new computer system.
“When I took this office over we found the sheriff’s office in crisis, it was faced with criminal investigations and class action lawsuits … and a shortage of civilian and uniform staff,” Williams told Council during today's budget hearing.
The Sheriff's Office had a $14.3 million budget fiscal year 2012. This year's request would bring the budget to $17.8 million.
There are currently 214 Sheriff Deputies and supervisors down from 230 in 2008. That has also led to a decrease in the number of personnel in the city’s courts, which Williams said poses a public safety risk.
“The primary job of the Sheriff at the criminal courthouse is to protect the judges, the public, the witnesses, as well as the defendants.”
And due to ongoing investigations and lawsuits from previous administrations and the lack of an in-house accounting staff, Williams said, the office needs to retain an outside accounting firm at the cost of $350,000.
Recently, the computer systems that facilitate Sheriff’s sale procedure and accounting collapsed for nearly a day, Williams said in his testimony. The firm that built the system a decade ago has gone out of business and the design and construction of a new system will cost the city $500,000.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said, "this is not a small number," adding that she wanted more details as to how the money would be used.
It’s not clear if the Nutter Administration supports the hefty request for additional dough.
The city’s Finance director Rob Dubow said the Administration has been talking with the Sheriff’s office about their budget.
Meanwhile, according to a recent Quarterly City Manager’s Report, the Sheriff is projected to spend $2.5 million over their targeted expenses due to higher overtime costs and an increase in Deputy Sheriff wage earnings awarded during interest arbitration.