Cost of gas straining Grainger County Sheriff's budget

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Rutledge (WVLT) - Only on Volunteer TV - High gas prices force the Grainger County Sheriff to pump more money into his budget.

County commission gave the sheriff 30,000 extra dollars Monday night. All of it just to fuel his gas bill.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy was there as commissioners cast their votes.

The budgeted amount only covered fuel at $2.22 a gallon. When deputies filled-up Monday, the price was nearly $3.70. The sheriff has three months left to pay this fiscal year. Before Monday night, his budget ran on far less than fumes

Topping off's....tanked the Grainger County Sheriff's fuel budget.

"In that line item on the budget, we're down to zero," Grainger County Sheriff James Harville said.

Sheriff James Harville had 80-thousand dollars budgeted for fuel, but that works out to just $2.22 a gallon.

"I'm not blaming anybody. It's the price of fuel. Nobody expected it to get this high this quick," Harville said.

At more than $3.50 a gallon, filling-up guzzles more than 10 thousand dollars a month. Now, Harville's budget's on Empty.

"All the rest of the line items are running so close I can't come up with that money. I can't save it anywhere else," Harville said.

Because the Sheriff's Office has eight patrol officers. That only two per shift. Harville says keeping tires parked isn't an option.

"The guys now, based on the increased number of calls from last year, just go from one call to the other one," Harville said.

So Monday night he asked County Commission to fuel his budget with 30-thousand extra dollars.

"He's on the road all the time. I feel that's a justifiable request," county commissioner James Acuff said.

Most of commission agreed. Commissioner James Acuff calls the 11 to 3 outcome a vote for safety.

"As the Road Commissioner mentioned, there's 600 miles of road, more than 22,000 residents. So how do you protect them unless you're on the road," Acuff said.

But Commissioner DeWayne Davis questioned how commission would pump the funds.

"We've asked how much we've got left in the General Fund. We've not really got an exact answer," Davis said.

But now Sheriff's deputies hit the road and hit the pumps knowing it's paid.

"I'm going to keep going on until either County Commission, or the County Mayor tells me basically to shut down," Harville said.

Because his job's to protect and serve...no matter the pump pains.

Commission plans to take the 30,000 from it's general fund. County Mayor Mike Hipsher says that's projected to finish the fiscal year with about 80,000 dollars extra.
Sheriff Harville has made some cuts. He cut the sheriff's office take-home car policy this past weekend. That's to see if it's saves any mileage and money, but Harville worries how that might slow response times.


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