Sullivan County

Budget battle in Sullivan County, Tenn.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - The budget battle in Sullivan County between the sheriff's department and the county could come to an end tonight.

A meeting is being held tonight to discuss the negotiations.

We're told Sullivan County Commissioners are talking to a lawyer in private to get questions answered about settling the lawsuit. At 7:00 tonight any potential negotiations will be put on the table.

Here is some background, according to Tennessee law if a sheriff feels his department is not being properly funded and the office can't perform its duties, then the sheriff has the right to sue the county commission.

That's what Sheriff Wayne Anderson did in August 2012 on the grounds that his department hasn't seen in increase in funding in the last six years.

Anderson adds the capacity of his jail is 620, but often that number is near 800. We're also told the sheriff's department answers more than 60,000 calls a year.

Sheriff Anderson hired Johnson City attorney Dick Pectol and the firm Pectol & Miles.  Anderson has been advised by his attorneys to not talk with the media until the matter is resolved.

We talked to Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey about the lawsuit. "we hope that cool heads will prevail and that whether it goes to court and whether it gets settled, we just hope that everybody will be able to walk away from this and get back to work and to try to move this county forwards and do what we need to be doing," he said.

Tonight at 7:00 the county commission will meet and decide whether to settle with the sheriff or let the case go to court.

Keep in mind the taxpayers are footing the bill for the lawyers on both sides and will continue to do so, until this case is settled.

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