Orange County Deputies May Soon Get Raises

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — WFTV found out Tuesday, taxpayers are going to have to pay for union workers' raises inside the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Demings returned a $1.5 million surplus to the county, but a judge said the three percent raises couldn't be denied and they'll cost more than the money the sheriff saved.

Close to 1,000 deputies could soon see thousands of dollars in their bank accounts after the state ruled the Orange County Sheriff's Office is required to pay the deputies a three percent pay raise.

"In the long run, why not just pay your deputies the money they are due, especially if you are giving money back to the county," Union President John Park said.

The union filed a lawsuit in November after Sheriff Jerry Demings announced he was not going to give any pay raises for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, due to budget constraints. The union shot back and said it was a violation of its contract, so it filed suit.

Members argue Demings had an extra $1.5 million in his fuel budget and, instead of giving it to his people, he returned the funds to the county. According to the ruling, the sheriff' will have to pay all the three percent merit increase plus interest, which amounts to about $2 million. The agency will also have to pay for the union's legal fees.

Orange County disagrees and doesn't believe it violated any contractual obligations. The agency plans to appeal the decision.

But taxpayer Timothy Cutter says the deputies should be rewarded, even if it's a tough economic year.

"With the way crime has decreased, and the ways the economy has gone down, I believe they are owed their raise," Cutter said.