Commission approves jailer’s raise, bonus for sheriff’s department

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Carter County Commission on Tuesday approved a $3,000 retention and sign-on bonus for full-time sheriff and jail personnel and a $1,000 annual raise for full-time jailers.
In addition, the commission approved a $1,500 bonus for part-time employees.
The raises were approved 19-1 with one abstention. Sonja Culler was the lone ‘no’ vote.
“Commissioner (Aaron Frazier – Budget Vice-Chair), am I correct in saying that in a bonus you are losing 25% right off the bat for taxes,” said Culler during discussion of the motion. “So they wouldn’t be getting $3,000 or $1,500. I realize that every employee in the county needs a raise and I would not deny that.
“But these people (sheriff’s department employees) sitting out here and others that are out here working tonight and driving around to protect us, they don’t know when they are going to walk up to a person who has COVID or they don’t know when they will knock on a door that someone is going to shoot through that door or open it for $12 an hour. Make yourself feel good and give them this bonus. I am not going to vote for it.”
Culler felt the employees needed more of a pay increase rather than a bonus for the work they do.
The bonuses are retroactive to Oct. 1, 2021, with Chief Deputy James Parrish to be included but Sheriff Dexter Lunceford excluded due to being an elected official. The bonuses will be paid quarterly and end on June 30, 2022.
Approximately 40 full-time jailers will receive the $1,000 raise annually with a stipulation that the raise is to be certified by the department head for every applicable employee.
The vote was 20-0 with one abstention on the raise motion with the funds coming from already funded budgeted personnel lines.
Also addressed was an item presented to the commission by County Attorney Josh Hardin in regard to the regional Juvenile Detention Center notifying the counties and cities served of an increase to the daily rate to house a juvenile. The rate will increase $19.24 per day beginning March 1, from $211.23 to $230.47.
Hardin said the detention center cited personnel turnover and an increase in insurance expenses as driving the cost increase.
Commissioner Mark Blevins made a motion to table the issue until the March meeting to give more time to get information from the center in regards to the increase since the letter was just received by Mayor Patty Woodby on Friday.
Hardin told the commission that according to the letter that the county wouldn’t have access to the facility after March 1 and wasn’t sure that the facility in Knoxville would take any juveniles.
The commission voted 17-4 to table the issue.
In other business from the meeting:
  • The commission voted 21-0 in support of a resolution supporting the broadband project in Carter County.
  • Approved moving $80,000 previously set aside for the hiring of a Communications Director to a line item where the process can begin to find someone to fill the position.
  • Approved appropriating up to $70,000  for Wi-Fi hotspots, related communications equipment, and night vision equipment for the Sheriff Department from the Committed for Public Safety reserve account.
  • Approved monetary donations to the Animal Shelter in the amount of $8,102.
Chairman Ginger Holdren also reminded the commission about the upcoming Health and Welfare Town Halls to identify and prioritize projects to use the American Rescue Plan funds the county will receive. Those dates are Feb. 28, March 1, and March 28 beginning at 6 p.m.
The next commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Mon. March 21.

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