MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Funding school resource officers in Marshall County has proven itself tough for county school leadership and the sheriff’s office. Wednesday, county commissioners will consider a license fee to help fund SROs in the county.
Currently, there are eight part-time SRO’s that cover the 14 county schools. In a work session, commissioners will consider 14 full-time deputies for all county campuses.
To pay for the new deputies, the commission is proposing a license plate fee increase.
James Hutchenson, commission chairman, says the 14 deputies will cost around $650,000 annually. In the first year the county will have extra costs like funding new equipment, squad cars and paying for training.
“The first year will cost roughly $1 million to hire the deputies, buy the equipment, the vehicles and all of that. In the proceeding years it wouldn’t cost that much," explained Hutchenson.
He predicts the fee increase will be in between $12-$20.
A 2009 law allows the commission to enact a fee increase up to $25. There are exemption options. Those 65 and older, or disabled may be exempted. The chairman says they are considering additional exemptions that will be discussed in a work session Wednesday.
County teachers say SRO’s are vital to daily success and safety. “We’re so far out from any police system that there is that we need a SRO here on campus to help provide safety for our kids," said Amber Bowling.
“We definitely suffer some from being a County school because we don’t have the funding that we need to get the things that we need....like an SRO," said Bowling. Just last week two schools were consolidated due to finances.
Right now, the legislature gives the county roughly $30,000 annually for SROs. The county and school board put forth between $50,000 and $70,000. This according to Hutchenson.