Manatee deputies ask for raises again at county budget hearing

It's standing-room only crowd tonight at a public hearing on the $464 million county budget, with sheriff's deputies and EMS workers asking for pay raises.

Many of the speakers noted that it's been five years since they had gotten a raise, some mentioned they were having trouble paying their mortgages, for daycare or even cable TV.

Chris Thames, 36, of Bradenton, a sheriff's deputy, said his brother is making 22 cents a hour less that he is -- with six years less experience than he has.

An EMS worker said he is making less than $12 an hour, less than what an ad for a bartender for the county civic center would make.

Thames predicted that if the county commission is unwilling to fix the salary problem, there would be a mass exodus of experienced deputies to other places that pay more.

"It’s time to stand behind my sheriff, and your sheriff, and give him what he’s been asking for,” Thames said.

Commissioners were slated to adopt a final budget tonight that calls for no tax increases.