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Harris County Delays Proposed Rate Changes to Deputy Contract Program, Budget Questions Remain

After nearly 30 Harris County residents signed up to speak in defense of a long-used contract program that bolsters police patrols, the county’s Office of Budget Management (OMB) Director Daniel Ramos removed his proposed changes from the commissioners court agenda this week but has left in place a budgetary change that he said exempts the contracts from a state prohibition against defunding law enforcement agencies.

At a commissioners’ court meeting last month, Ramos proposed adding 11.2 percent administration fees to deputy contracts under which many neighborhoods and school districts contract with county law enforcement agencies to provide additional patrol deputies, which would increase county revenue from the contracts by $14 million.

Ramos also proposed changes to contract terms that allow some neighborhoods and school districts to cover 70 percent of the total costs for a deputy and equipment in exchange for 70 percent of that deputy’s time. The deputies in question do attend to county needs elsewhere, but Ramos characterized the split as a “subsidy” for police patrols in the contracted areas and accused contract deputies of ...