Items added to sheriff department budget won’t require more revenue

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Some major items that were missing from the sheriff’s department budget have been added back in, but the changes will not require any additional revenue.
During Monday’s meeting of the Carter County Commission Budget Committee, members voted to approve several line item shifts to balance needed items in the budget and clean up some salary line items.
The county’s budget was approved in July and Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said when he took office on Sept. 1 he inherited the budget approved by the previous administration, which contained no money in the line items for jail maintenance and inmate medical claims.
Those line items had been zeroed out during the budget process by the previous administration, Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said, adding the changes were made following a request from the previous budget committee for all the office holders to cut their budgets.
Lunceford estimated $40,000 would need to be budgeted for maintenance to the jail facility and $61,000 would be needed to cover inmate medical claims.
Deloach told the committee because the department is not fully staffed, and has not been for some time, there are additional funds available in the medical insurance line item which could cover adding funding back into the budget for jail maintenance and inmate medical claims.
The transfer of funds was unanimously approved by the committee.
Also approved was a request from Lunceford for $17,000 to upgrade security cameras in the jail. The money for the purchase would be taken from a reserve fund created by fees received by the county through Securus, the company which operates the jail’s inmate phone system.
While the cameras currently in place in the jail are good, Parrish said, the department is hoping to upgrade to better cameras which also record audio to help improve officer safety within the facility.
“If we get enough of the right types of cameras we can convert to an indirect supervision facility,” Parrish said.
The Carter County Detention Center is currently a direct supervision facility, which means an officer is stationed inside each block with the inmates.
The committee also approved a request from Parrish to adjust the salary line items. Currently, the department budget has separate line items for paying officers in different divisions – such as patrol and corrections.
The misalignment in the salary line items was probably the result of officers transferring from one division to another during their employment, Parrish said, adding as employees transferred they continued to be paid through the original line item.
“The bottom line was the same, they were just paying out of different pots of money,” Parrish said. He said the requested line item changes were a “housecleaning” matter and would allow for staff to be paid out of the correct line item for their position.
Members of the committee also approved a request by Landfill Manager Benny Lyons for $6,116 in additional funding to be used to match a state grant to boost the county’s recycling program. The grant total is more than $30,000 with a requirement the county match 20 percent of the funds.
Lyons said he plans to use the funds to purchase additional recycling dumpsters to be placed throughout the county.
The committee approved taking $6,116 from the county’s fund balance to apply to the matching portion of the grant.
West Carter Volunteer Fire Department was recently awarded a grant to purchase equipment for the firefighters. The committee approved $3,000 from the volunteer fire department grant matching fund be used for West Carter.
All requests approved by the committee must also be taken to the full Commission for approval. The commission is next scheduled to meet on Nov. 17.

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