Commissioners authorized County Budget Officer Dr. Dick Raycraft to study the patrol issue and how moving the program to the constables’ office would help to fill vacant deputy slots in the Sheriff’s Department. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says contract deputies are here to stay.
“Contract deputy program is really popular in this county, and there may be some tweaks that need to be made, but when Dr. Raycraft came out with his proposal it was meant, I think, from his office to take an over-arching look. But as you can tell from the members of the Court and the public, contract deputies are popular and that program will continue.”
The program allow entities like school districts and neighborhood associations to pay the county to have deputies assigned to spend most of their working hours patrolling specific areas. Meanwhile, the second public hearing on a proposed tax increase will be held next week. Emmett says it’s more of an adjustment than anything else.
“Three tenths of one cent one place up, and three tenths of one cent another place down. So it all balances out to be where it was and this year with all that’s going on in the credit markets and with the hurricane, kind of just holding where we are probably is a good idea, until we understand exactly what we’re facing.”
Emmett says he hopes FEMA to advance pay up to 50-percent of the County’s estimated cost of recovery from Hurricane IKE.
Pat Hernandez…KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.