Blount County Commissioners Discuss Budget

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Blount County (WVLT) - Blount County Sheriff's Deputies will not be getting the raise they wanted to make them more competitive with surrounding cities.

The Blount County Commission passed a budget Thursday night for a five cent tax increase for raises, but raises for all county employees.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb has the latest.

The budget committee and Blount County Commission heard passionate pleas from both those for and against substantial raises for deputies in the sheriff's office.

Besides the sheriff, some commissioners heard from deputies and law enforcement who call the profession a calling, but a calling that needs to feed their families.

"Almost six week old baby at home, and if it wasn't for my family and for the people at the Blount County Sheriff's Office giving me second hand baby clothes, I don't know what my baby would be wearing," Blount County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Smith said.

Deputies also got some support from the public.

"It needs to be adjusted in the name of fairness. It needs to be adjusted," said Dick Scott, who supports the pay raise.

But not everyone shared those feelings.
Some question the sheriff's priorities, who say he has more cars than drivers.

"It's only about 140 people that need a car, and we have 249. So yes, and we're scheduled in the new budget to spend another $855,000 on more cars," said Jim Folts from Citizens for a Better Blount County.

The sensitivity of the issue turned heated. A group critical of the sheriff told the mayor that literature they hoped to pass on to the public was thrown in the trash by a sheriff's deputy, a situation the mayor said would not be tolerated.

"Yes, it's being addressed," Mayor Jerry Cunningham said.

"And what are your thoughts about it?" McLamb asked.

"My thoughts if it's not addressed appropriately, I'll address it. A Paris Island drill sergeant butt chewing," Cunningham said.

School Superintendent Alvin Hord also urged the commission to add four million to their budget requesting more teachers as they prepare to open more schools in the coming years.

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