Blount County (WVLT) - The issue has been on the table for years, but this year Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong says he's had enough. Blount County Deputies make significantly less than other agencies close by, and Sheriff Berrong wants to give his employees a five-percent raise.
"We want to make sure we have quality people on our roads and be able to react to changes in criminal needs that this community has and we can't do it with this pay," Sheriff Jim Berrong says.
Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong says the department lost 40 people last year when they didn't get a raise then.
"Hopefully it won't take a tragedy, an employee, deputy is injured out there because he doesn't have adequate back-up or citizens injured because we can't get there in a timely manner," Sheriff Berrong says.
He's asking for 2.6 million... the budget commission is offering 1.6 million. But to get it... it will cost you.
"The mayor had promised that this year when they set their budget they would do it without a property tax increase and they're already talking about a five-percent increase," Linda King says.
In fact, the budget commission approved that possibility. They will present this to the commission:
Over 39.5 million dollars. That will include a five-cent property tax increase... the tax rate recommendation will be $2.23. That's about 50 dollars a year for your average, 100-thousand dollar home-owner. Another option is taking money from the school's budget. Under both options, all county employees will see a potential five-percent raise.
It's money Sheriff Berrong says is worth it.
"We used to have a pool of people that wanted to come to the Blount County Sheriff's Office... now, it's so hard to attract the individuals that we once did," Sheriff Berrong says.