BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – At Thursday night’s meeting, the Sullivan County Commission passed a resolution to allot funds to go toward pay raises for the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
The resolution, introduced by Commissioner Gary Stidham, asked for $1,045,713 to go to the department, with the goal of raising the hourly wage to $21. The raise would only apply to officers within the department.
Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy brought the pay raise to the commission’s attention prior to Thursday, looking for help in solving an officer shortage in the community.
“The sheriff came to us a few months ago,” said Commissioner Jessica Means.” And after the budget season, he noticed that other areas in the region were upping their pay for their police.”
Stidham was informed by Cassidy that he was having trouble keeping officers, leading him to pitch the resolution. Other commissioners said the pay increase will be a major benefit for the sheriff’s office.
“It’s going to allow the sheriff to attract and retain personnel for him to be competitive with his pay scale,” Means said. “Pair that with our benefits package that Sullivan County offers.”
“I think it’s a great thing for the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office to be competitive with Washington County and the cities, Bristol and Kingsport,” said Commissioner Michael Cole.
According to both Means and Cole, the money for the raises will not come from taxes.
“The sheriff’s office had turned that in last year in good faith,” said Cole. “So that money was appropriated from what the sheriff’s office had turned in last year.”
“They’re going to be looking at different options,” said Means. “There’s different ways to fund it. But some of it was his and some of it will be from the general fund.”
During the meeting, concerns were brought up regarding other Sullivan County departments and whether they would also receive a raise. Since the pay raise was a stand-alone resolution, the raise would only apply to the Sheriff’s Office. Cole said he would support any other officials who chose to apply for departmental raises.
“My stand is if other Constitution-elected officers want to do the same, they can,” said Cole. “And I would be more than happy to vote on standalone resolutions for their employees.”
The exact amount for the raise will be determined by the Sheriff. Cassidy told News Channel 11 that he has not yet decided how much the raise will be but expects to know more next week.