The biggest challenge facing the Bibb County Sheriffs Office as it merges with the Macon Police Department is inequity of pay, Sheriff David Davis and Cara Cotton, the sheriffs director of strategic management, told most of the incoming Macon-Bibb County Commission on Wednesday morning.
Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas, one of the commissioners-elect who will take office at the end of this year, asked what it would cost to equalize pay between agencies.
Theres been numbers bandied about of something over $1 million in disparity, Davis said. Starting officers in both agencies make about the same, but theres a gap between police and sheriffs personnel among those who have a decade or more of service, he said.
That cant be resolved in the new governments first year, but the new government needs to at least demonstrate its intention to equalize pay by setting up a plan, Davis said.
Macon officers want to make as much as deputies, while deputies worry their pay will be frozen until former Macon officers catch up, Cotton said.
The combined sheriffs office and police department is really a new agency, adopting some practices from each, she said.
It is a merger, not a takeover, Cotton said. A position has been found for all current police and sheriffs personnel, she said.
The name will still be the Bibb County Sheriffs Office, since the job of sheriff is written into the state constitution -- and the sheriff will answer directly to voters, not to other Macon-Bibb elected officials, Cotton said.
New gray uniforms probably wont arrive in time for the Jan. 1 changeover, but at least most patrol officers may be equipped by then, she said.
When the new agency officially comes into being Jan. 1, it will include about 600 sworn deputies and 160 civilian personnel, making the Bibb County Sheriffs Office the fourth-largest law enforcement agency in the state, Cotton said.
And both existing agencies are below full strength, Davis said. If all sworn positions were filled, that would rise to about 635 deputies, he said.
While all sheriffs deputies are issued cars that they take home, some Macon police use pool cars -- and many of the citys cars are high-mileage, so in the consolidated governments first budget, Davis said, hes likely to ask for quite a few new cars.