Flagler County Gov, FCSO, and the City of Palm Coast Partner Together to Talk Collaborative Funding for the Future of Public Safety

Five Year Plan

Flagler County – The meeting was a joint workshop between the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners, City of Palm Coast and Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to discuss a five year public safety staffing plan. Topics discussed included analyzing calls for service data to determine staffing needs, establishing a calls-for-service metric to determine staffing levels, addressing current staffing deficits, and options for funding additional positions. They reviewed analysis showing current deficits and projections for future staffing needs based on population growth. There was agreement to continue working together to finalize a staffing metric, resolution, and funding options.

Sheriff Staly was the one to request this joint workshop last spring, in an effort to create a long term planning and financial plan for the public safety of Flagler County. In 2022 the Sheriff’s Office received a community oriented policing service, COPS grant, from the US Department of Justice allowing them to conduct a more in depth staffing study. This joint meeting was a chance to review the data from that study.

The study started by evaluating the distribution of calls for service by hour, day, month, allowing for an evaluation of temporal trends in demand for service. The average time a deputy spends on calls for service is 121 minutes. Flagler County has seen a growth rate just over 14%, which is roughly about 4,000 residents annually. This growth increases the number of calls emergency services receives by about 2,700 calls annually. It was determined that this annual increase would provide a need for eight additional deputies a year.

It was also noted that the area’s crime rate is going down, and the trend continues to show a downward movement even with the rising population. That said, in 2023, the calls for service showed a need for 161 deputies with a deficit today of 37. The presentation concluded with the possibility of adopting a resolution for city and county level of service law enforcement of 308 calls for service per deputy sheriff per year. And the option to pursue various funding option. There’s general fund, millage, dedication, half cent sales tax and other options.

The discussion was then opened up to the Palm Coast City Council and Flagler County Board of Commissioners regarding the five-year plan. The information was clarified that the data points only correlated to the FCSO, it did not include data from Bunnell Police Department of Flagler Beach Police Department as they handle their own calls for service. The current funding for the FCSO does not include there 37 unfilled spots needed for current call volume and population, and it does not include growth moving forward.

Funding this cooperative five year plan was another topic of discussion within the meeting. One of the possibilities for funding is a half-cent sales tax, which would fund more than just the FCSO, it would also fund fire and police as well. The half-cent sales tax would also be a way to obtain funding for public safety from tourists and visitors, both of which add to our public safety needs. Ultimately the County and City will be working together to collect more data points together and some drafts for future call service metrics that identify growth scenarios for future meetings, before May 1st, to look at funding options closer.

By Flagler County Buzz

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