‘Per capita, we spend more in the sheriff’s department than Anderson County’- Commissioner Zach Marlow

TOP PHOTO: County commissioners spent the majority of its workshop discussing how to retain sheriff’s employees.

By Charlotte Underwood

JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – County commissioners met Monday evening for their monthly workshop with discussion on how to retain sheriff’s department employees taking up the majority of the meeting. 

Commissioner Scott Kitts brought the issue before the commission, saying he planned to make a motion at next week’s meeting for the finance department to “try to find funds” to pay deputies more and a have a higher starting wage for new hires so the department would be able to retain employees. 

Kitts asked Campbell County Sheriff Wayne Barton how much deputies make in his department. 

According to Barton, “new hire deputies start at $17.15 an hour, and it tops out at 20 years and can be up to $19.15.”

Kitts then asked how many people the “sheriff had lost to go right down the road to make more money on the hour.”

“In the last 60 days, we have lost four or five to better paying jobs. Anderson County is the biggest challenge we face; they start their deputies at $21.25 an hour. It’s difficult to compete with them; we’ve lost two that left to go to be SRO’s in Anderson County,” Barton said.

According to the sheriff, his department is short handed and trying to cover shifts with overtime. His department is still covering one shift a week for Jellico, but they are being paid for it, which is helping to offset costs in his department. 

“We are scheduled to have several go to the academy in October and hopefully fill some of our positions,” Barton said. 

According to Sheriff Wayne Barton, out of 35 sheriff’s departments in the eastern region of the state, only five pay less than Campbell County.

“Our citizens deserve better than this, and so do those working for the sheriff’s department. Can we bring it before committee to find a way to pay employees more?” Kitts asked, saying he planned on making a motion at next week’s meeting for the issue to go to the budget committee and finance department to “find funds for raises for deputies and higher pay for starting officers.”

Commissioner Zach Marlow said “everything needed to be taken into account.” He said Campbell County offered better benefits for employees with “lower deductibles and out of pocket expenses.”

“We also need to remember that, per capita, we spend more in the sheriff’s department than Anderson County,” Marlow said.

“We are still losing people and having trouble getting people here,” Commissioner Derrick Sharp pointed out.

“They can go to LaFollette and Caryville, and both pay more than we do. Jacksboro is close. We lost a detective to the state troopers. We need to pay our guys more; no questions asked,” Barton said.

Commissioners asked what he thought it would cost to do this. 

“It would cost $1 more on the hour, and approximately $300,000 more funds yearly,” Barton said. 

Commissioner Rusty Orick pointed out the commission passed the budget two months ago and said this should have been brought up at budget time. 

Commissioner Dewayne Baird said that while he wished the county “could pay everyone more money,” in the end, it had to be looked at from both sides.

“We have a time to discuss this, and that’s at budget time,” Baird said.

Kitts reiterated that he planned to make his motion at next week’s meeting. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 08/15/2023-6AM)