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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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'No Comment': Lunceford won't talk about raises dished out by sheriff he ousted in election

August 22nd, 2014 11:30 am by John Thompson

'No Comment': Lunceford won't talk about raises dished out by sheriff he ousted in election

Chris Mathes and Dexter Lunceford

ELIZABETHTON — There has been much discussion in the Carter County Courthouse over the past week about two sets of raises Sheriff Chris Mathes approved for his men in July and August. The sheriff said he planned to use the salary in the chief deputy’s line item to pay for the raises and not fill the chief deputy position, balancing his budget.

One person has been conspicuously absent during the conversations. That is Sheriff-elect Dexter Lunceford, who will take over the sheriff’s department Sept. 1.

Lunceford has been out of town for the past several days, attending the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association convention. When he returned to Elizabethton on Thursday afternoon and was asked to comment on the controversy, he declined to add his voice to the conversation.

“No comment,” Lunceford said. When prodded about whether he was concerned about the financial changes, Lunceford said “If there is something that needs to be fixed, I will fix it on Sept. 1,” Lunceford said.

While he would not join the commentary on the pay raises, Lunceford did say there has not been any transitioning between the old and new administrations and he has not had the chance to inspect the facilities, including the jail.

The raises were submitted directly to the County Finance Department in two batches. The first was 44 pay increases submitted July 29, a week before the election. There was another batch Aug. 12, but Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said some of those had to be rejected because they were not within the budget.

Some officials in county government called the pay raises into question because they were never approved by the county Budget Committee.

Mathes said Monday that he saw an opportunity to give his officers raises when Chief Deputy Ron Street told him he was planning to retire.

The raises will make the budget more difficult for Lunceford, who has already announced he will fill the chief deputy position with James Parrish, who bowed out of the sheriff's race before the primary in May and threw his support to Lunceford.

Related: Questions arise as exiting Carter Co. sheriff hands out pay raises

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