NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking the New Orleans City Council for a $13 million increase in next year’s budget.

At a budget hearing on Monday, Nov. 6, Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson said part of the request will focus on hiring as the office and jail currently operate with less than 60% of a full staff.

Hutson also said she wants to raise the department’s minimum pay to $20 an hour.

“We are very grateful for the $2.43 per hour that we received last year. That has helped us bring in net 103 people in place. We believe if we can bring that to two more dollars per hour to get to $20, which as you can see will cost about $3.3 million, that will help us to get even more recruits,” Hutson said.

At the hearing, Hutson noted that the jail population is nearing capacity, as there are more than 1,200 inmates in the jail.

The request also includes funds to help track the department’s inventory and maintenance, as well as phase three plans for a mental health facility.

After the hearing, Hutson released the following statement:

We want the community to know that we are working every day to increase transparency and accountability about our spending, which is why we have submitted an RFP to find a financial software system that addresses the unique needs of this agency.

During our presentation to the city council today, we explained that increasing our annual appropriations can help the city achieve a federally compliant jail that treats everyone in custody with humanity and provide robust re-entry support services so people leaving our facilities do not repeatedly return. We should not have to continue relying on outside funding and grants to provide the necessary programming and resources to those from our community who are housed there.

We are also advocating for a $2/hour raise for staff working in this jail. Since day one, I have been focused on increasing their starting salary to $20/hour, which would increase the annual salary to $43,680. This would help close the compensation gap for our deputies, allowing us to pay a competitive wage which would improve our recruitment and retention efforts and ensure our deputies are compensated fairly for the incredible work they do on a daily basis.

I want to thank our community members and partners who attended the meeting to voice their concerns, provide valuable feedback and show support for the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office. 

Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson

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