Anderson Sheriff: More Money Needed to Pay Deputies

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Clinton, Anderson County (WVLT) - Thursday night it was Blount County, now the Anderson County Sheriff's Department says time and money is running out.

And it could end up costing you money.

The sheriff's department is asking the county commission for more officers and higher salaries.

Sheriff Paul White says their officers haven't seen an increase in pay since the mid-80's and they often can't respond to every call in time.

But the county commission says if they approve the money, it would most-likely mean a 25-cent property tax increase.

"It's finally just come time that they're going to have to increase. We're so far behind now we can't catch up,” Anderson County Sheriff Paul White says the needs across the community have increased, but the department has not. "We're far short-handed, our pay is very low compared to other departments."

That's why the Sheriff's Department is asking County Commission for the average base salary to go from nearly $27,771 dollars to $33,883, plus an additional 15 deputies for street patrol and investigations.

"A very large increase in a large department. We just don't have a way to pay for anything near that much without a property tax increase,” County Commission Chairman Myron Iwanski says the Sheriff's Department request would require a 25-cent property tax increase, something he's not sure the commission will support. "It's probably on the order of $100 a year for a typical home owner."

But home owner Terrie Cox grew up in Anderson County and says she's willing to pay the tax for safety in return. "We don't pay our cops enough now the way it is, so yeah, I'd be for it. Without their protection, the town's not a safe place to live."

Right now, Sheriff White says sometimes they just don't have enough officers to respond to emergencies. "We're at that point where you start eliminating which is the more serious call."

"He makes a very good case. There are definitely some needs in the sheriff's department, but we have a lot of other needs in other departments in the county,” Myron says.

"If you're not going to draw the police officers in town, then they're either going to quite or go look for other jobs,” says Cox.

The last time the county experienced a property tax increase was three years ago, and that one was only seven cents.

The commission is looking for the public's input on this.

They say they typically pass the county budget in July, but this one may take until august because of so many needs on the table.