"There's a lot of people out here that tell us on a day-to-day basis, 'I wouldn't have your job for any amount of pay.' They wouldn't have it for any amount of pay much less for the amount the deputies are making," says Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes.
That's just one reason Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes wants to give his deputies more money. Hughes is asking county leaders to bring deputies pay to a competitive rate, adding at least $3000 more a year. However, no changes would come to his salary.
"We know we need to provide law enforcement to our residents and we'll make sure to do that. But when the money isn't there, we can only do with the money we have," says Commission Chairman Mark Culver.
Sheriff Hughes says he has a plan to save money as well. He wants to hire some part time help at the courthouse, helping to relieve overtime pay.
"We'd save $8,000 right off the top of what we would have to pay certified deputy to come down here to work full time. Plus, we're going to save another 40 percent on benefits package," says Hughes.
Coming in to the Houston County Sheriff's Office, a deputy with training starts out making just over $27,000 a year, whereas someone trained coming in to the Dothan Police Department can start out over $30,000.
"We want, absolutely, for our employees and our deputies and others to be paid at a market rate," says Culver.
Culver says the county just doesn’t have the money this year but will conduct its own survey and try to make adjustments in future budgets.
"It's not a great situation, but it's not something like the county is about to fall apart. We're not going to let our residents go without law enforcement. We are very supportive of law enforcement, and we will continue to be," says Culver.
Still, Hughes says the office needs money now.
"I mean, is it really worth going out and risking your life on $29,000 a year on a day to day basis?" says Hughes.
Mark Culver says the county will give the deputies their annual step raise but do not plan on approving the hiring of any new positions. It's still unknown if the commission can afford to give a cost of living adjustment to deputies.