By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Members of the Law Enforcement Committee gave their support to budget requests from the Sheriff’s Department during their meeting Thursday night.

At the committee’s April meeting, Sheriff Ray Russell said he planned to request funding for two new dispatchers to help with a growing call volume, three new patrol vehicles and a 2.8 percent raise for employees.

“It’s getting a lot busier now with all the people moving into the county,” Russell told commissioners. “We dispatch for us, fire, rescue, ambulance; it’s getting too much.”

Hiring two dispatchers would cost around $30,000 each, not including insurance, Russell estimated.

With regards to raises, committee chairman Dwight Jewell said he had indications from the mayor that no raises for county employees were planned as part of the upcoming budget.

“I know there’s always resistance on one department getting raises and others not,” Jewell said. “As far as I’m concerned, put it in there and we’ll fight for it. You may not get it; it’s not totally our decision.”

Commissioners approved nearly $240,000 in raises for the Sheriff’s Department last year, which both Russell and Chief Deputy Wayland Cothron said were appreciated. Russell said he had not lost any deputies since those raises were approved.

“We’re not trying to keep up with Lebanon or Gallatin; we’re trying to keep up with Red Boiling Springs,” the sheriff said. “Everybody’s having increases, not just us.”

Three new patrol cars would cost around $90,000, Russell estimated. The department tries to rotate out vehicles on an annual basis.

The sheriff said he currently had 21 vehicles, and three per year would allow a vehicle to be retired after seven to eight years and 140,000 to 150,000 miles on them.

Russell said he also planned to budget $20,000 for cameras for the Justice Center, but that he felt there was sufficient money already in place under courtroom security to provide for the cameras without requiring additional funds.

County budget hearings for the upcoming fiscal year have not been set as of press time. The Budget & Finance Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. and budget discussions could be part of that agenda.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.