358 county jobs sought for next year

LAWRENCEVILLE - Filling Gwinnett's needs would take big bucks and lots of new staffers, according to requests made by department heads, but as usual, there isn't enough money to fill all the requests.

Commissioners got a first glance Wednesday at the requests for 2007 - which include a record-setting request for 358 new staffers.

But officials in the finance department said the county would likely be able to afford only half that number.

"There's certainly not enough money to fund all the things requested," said Finance Director Lisa Johnsa.

According to Budget Director Kristine Tallent, the requests include 78 police officers, 66 firefighters and 98 sheriff's deputies.

The budget office already sees 128 staffers as essential. Officials have planned for most of those for a while, including the addition of a new State Court judge, which will require a number of employees in the court clerk's, district attorney's and solicitor's offices.

The county also needs at least 59 deputies for an expansion to the county jail, which will open in phases beginning this winter, she said, but does not include any additional police officers.

In keeping with the current trend of focusing on public safety, Tallent said 82 percent of the requests for new staff came from either the police, fire, corrections, sheriff or courts divisions.

In another analysis of the need for staffing, Tallent said the county would need to add 154 new positions to maintain the 2006 ratio of 6.10 staffers per 1,000 county residents in 2007.

Tallent said the county also received $16.5 million in requests for additional capital projects from the general fund. Those include technology upgrades and a couple of new projects but are also due to the rising cost in construction materials for projects already in the plans.

With months to go before the budget proposal is finalized, Tallent said she wasn't sure where the numbers would eventually settle.

"We're still early in the process," she said. "I don't want to speak for what will happen because there are so many reviews to come."

The budget proposal is due to commissioners in December, and they will vote on it in January.

n Total positions requested: 358

•Number considered essential by officials: 128

•Police department requests: 78

•Firefighters requested: 66

•Sheriff's deputies requested: 98

•Number of authorized positions per 1,000 residents in 2006: 6.10

•Number of positions needed to maintain that ratio in 2007: 154

•New funding requests for general tax dollars in the capital budget: $16.5 million