Charleston Co. passes $3.8M for sheriff’s office raises; funding questions remain

Council voted to allocate millions of dollars to help make the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office pay more competitive.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:23 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:40 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County Council voted to allocate millions of dollars to help make the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office pay more competitive, but it is not yet clear where they would get that money.

In a 5-4 vote along party lines, the council passed a motion that would give $3.8 million to the sheriff’s office to up their pay, but initially did not say where the money would come from.

There are currently more than 160 vacancies within the sheriff’s office.

Chairman Teddie Pryor said the money could come from the general fund, unfilled positions and undesignated funds because it is a one-time expense.

He said the starting pay rate for a deputy would go up to between $42,000 and $46,000. For those with more experience, it would be around $49,000.

Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt, who voted against the measure, said she supports law enforcement and raising pay. However, she wanted the sheriff to exhaust her budget before coming back to council for additional funding.

“The motion was we need to find almost $4 million somewhere in the budget that we don’t have, which means from a fiscal standpoint, my responsibility to the people is to be fiscally responsible,” Honeycutt said. “We have to find that. That may mean raising taxes on those that can least afford it.”

“That’s like anything else we do,” Pryor said. “When we pass stuff, we have to go and find the money. If we really care about law enforcement, and we really care about public safety, and protecting the people who we serve, then you have to ask staff to find that money, and I’m sure they will find it. Nobody on staff said they couldn’t find the money.”

Pryor said staff will come back at next week’s finance committee meeting to discuss how they can pay for the increase.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano released the following statement in response to council passing the measure.

“We are thankful that we can move forward to bring our base starting salaries for employees up to the market rate. This will improve retention and ensure that public safety will be maintained. I am particularly thankful for the support of Charleston County Council in making public safety a priority.”