SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - The wheels are turning for another funding request from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff Wayne Anderson told News 5 he is formally requesting a 17 percent pay raise for his employees just days after a judge grants them a two percent pay raise, ending the sheriff's lawsuit against the county.
News 5 looked into why this is needed and what could mean for taxpayers footing the bill.
The call of duty comes too cheap if you ask Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson. "They are overworked, overstressed, and underpaid. It's really sad," said Sheriff Anderson.
He told News 5 a two percent pay raise isn't enough. "We had a law enforcement expert to look at Kingsport and look at Bristol and the surrounding area, and he said that we were 17 percent below our counterparts," the sheriff explained.
We found out the sheriff is in the process of requesting a 17 percent salary increase for all of his 270 employees. The paperwork is expected to be filed by Tuesday. "It would run roughly about $2 million," Sheriff Anderson said.
For those 80 employees the sheriff has already requested in his current proposal, he wants their pay 17 percent higher, as well.
That cost has yet to be figured as of Monday afternoon, but we're told, it's a mission to raise the bar on public safety. "The biggest problem we have is trying to attract people with degrees or what have you that are qualified to be a good deputy," said Sheriff Anderson.
We asked Eddie Williams, who heads the budget committee, what this means when it's time to crunch the numbers. "Sizeable increases will have to be dealt with individually. I'm sure as anything like that would necessitate a tax increase," said Williams.
With the sheriff's request heading over $8 million dollars, it could all add up. "Each request of $340,000 takes one penny added to the tax rate," Williams explained.
We did the math and discovered that's like adding an extra quarter come tax time.
That's something residents we talked to aren't ready to fork out unless it's 100 percent necessary. "I'm already paying taxes, enough all I can stand," said David Smalling, a Bluff City resident.
"If it's needed and they can show a need for it; alright," said George Mallard, who lives in Blountville.
Sheriff Anderson said he won't stop asking the commission for what he feels is needed to keep the county safe; not this year, or any year after. "If they [the county commission] will work with us, we'll work something out, but if not, then I'll have to do what I have to do," said Sheriff Anderson.
Another fact we found out -- the sheriff told us during litigation, he had a list of former deputies willing to testify that they had to leave the sheriff's office to make more money elsewhere.
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