Budget Commission seeking ways to fund pay raises

Published 12:24 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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By Danielle Morin
Elizabethton Star
Big changes for Carter County Sheriff’s Office employees may be just around the corner. The Carter County Budget Commission will be meeting today, Oct. 25, and Thursday, Oct. 27, to vote on pay raises for patrol and corrections officers.
Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley proposed the $5 an hour increase to the Carter County Commissioners Board on Tuesday, Oct. 18, where it was unanimously approved. Now it just needs final approval by the Budget Committee to put the plan in motion.
“The time’s come where we’ve got to start taking care of our employees because they have to make that choice of what they want to do versus what it takes to support their families,” Fraley told News 5 WCYB.
Fraley presented the commission with both local and federal statistics to validate his arguments that officers in Carter County are grievously underpaid. Patrol officers in Carter County make an average of $16.61 an hour while those in Johnson City and Kingsport/Bristol make $20.38 per hour and $21.46 per hour respectively. Similarly, Carter County corrections officers’ average hourly wages are $15.38, while those officers in Johnson City and Kingsport/Bristol claim average hourly wages of $17.09 and $18.25 respectively. The new proposed income would put the starting hourly wages for patrol officers in Carter County at $18.80 and $18.47 for corrections officers.
Carter County Commissioner and Budget Committee Chair Aaron Frazier said the pay increase would solve serious issues with staffing hiring and retention that was directly threatening the continued certification of the jail. The pay increase would give Carter County a competitive advantage over other surrounding counties’ sheriff’s offices and boost current employee morale.
Frazier told WJHL News the pay raises are crucial for the future of the sheriff’s office and Carter County’s economy. “They want to serve in their community, and they want to provide for their families at the same time. If we can’t provide a wage where they can actually do that without being on food stamps, then there’s a problem.” Frazier stated that the proposal only needs five more votes to pass and is hoping to get those votes during the budget meetings this week.

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