Carter County Budget Committee agrees to address sheriff department pay concerns

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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Star Correspondent
Members of the Carter County Budget Committee have agreed to meet over the next two weeks in an effort to address needed pay raises for sheriff’s department employees.
Several county leaders spoke to the committee on Monday about low pay for employees, including Sheriff Mike Fraley.
The sheriff’s department has been struggling with understaffing at the jail, on patrol and in schools, according to Fraley. Since he was sworn into office, he has been able to move some people around and hire individuals, but staffing remains an issue. He added that patrol officers and constables have been assisting with safety at the county schools.
Fraley said he is currently short 25 corrections officers, 19 patrol officers and five school resource officers. One reason for the shortage is low pay, he said.
Individuals starting out on patrol are paid $13.80 in Carter County. In comparison, new Sullivan County officers are paid $17.64 and Washington County officers are paid $18.40.
Corrections officers in Carter County are paid $13.47. Those in Sullivan County receive $17.64 and Washington County officers are paid $17.81.
Carter County ranks in the bottom 10 percent of counties in Northeast Tennessee on its pay, according to data provided by the sheriff’s department.
Guinn noted that Unicoi County, which has a smaller budget and population than Carter County, recently voted to increase pay for new corrections officers to $15 an hour.
Due to low staffing, the state has warned the county it would decertify the jail, perhaps as soon as November.
“We still face the chance of being decertified,” said Fraley, who added that he is doing everything possible to alleviate that possibility.
If decertified, Fraley said prisoners would have to be transported to other jails, which would cost the county the lost revenue from state reimbursements.
The committee decided to meet twice a week for the next two weeks to work on a solution to help the jail. The committee will meet Oct. 18, 20, 25 and 27 to discuss pay for sheriff’s department employees. It will then make recommendations to the full commission.

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