WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is looking for qualified deputies, but the sheriff says only more money will attract them, because right now, the average pay is falling behind neighboring cities.

In Round Rock, a first-year officer makes a little over $66,000, and in Cedar Park, the first-year salary comes out to over $62,000. Compare that to a first-year Williamson County deputy at $53,000, which is about 23% less than Round Rock.

“We just want to be the mean of all those agencies plus 1%,” said Sheriff Mike Gleason during a Wednesday press conference.

The mean, according to Gleason, would look more like $58,000 for a first-year deputy.

“Our compensation is so low that we’re not even looking at them. We don’t even get the opportunity to interview or recruit them,” said Gleason.

This year alone, Gleason says his office has received 75 applications compared to the 750 applications that Round Rock attracted.

“We kind of got some questions from community members that all the crime happens in the cities, well no, that’s not true,” said Gleason.

During a recent commissioners court meeting, the Williamson County district attorney pointed out the sheriff’s office is responsible for 25% of all the felony filings in his court.

“Do you want them educated, professional, smart and with critical thinking skills? Or do you want the one who couldn’t get a job anywhere else?” said Gleason.

Judge Bill Gravell said commissioners recently increased the last law enforcement funding by $5.7 million in the next budget. That includes the cost of living adjustments and a pay raise for corrections officers.

The corrections officer increase is a 17% raise starting for entry-level corrections officers. Those just beginning to work in the field would earn just under $41,000.

When commissioners approved the move, Gleason said it was necessary to fill 49 corrections officer positions inside the jail.

Williamson County commissioners have until the end of the month to finalize next year’s budget.