The General Fund budget for this year was set at $12,837,084.81. This year, the requests are up to $13,401,321.62. That represents an increase of $564,236.81 if all requests were approved.
Most of the officeholders included increases in the salaries of county employees, many of whom have not had a raise in several years. The officeholders planned for an increase based on a 5 percent increase in employee salaries. A 5 percent increase in medical insurance was also factored into each officeholder’s request. A state-mandated salary increase for each officeholder was also included.
The largest increase comes from the sheriff’s department’s patrol division and jail division. Sheriff Chris Mathes said he realized his two divisions were manpower-intensive. As a result, he limited his request for pay raises to 2 percent. Even so, that amounted to $22,300.29 for deputy pay raises and $36,457 for guards.
Mathes said he could not cut medical insurance increases, and those amounted to an increase of $91,509.36 for deputies and $10,841.64 for guards. Increases in retirement, Social Security and other benefits also added to the total.
The result was that even with the smaller pay raises, the sheriff’s department and jail had the largest request for increases. The Sheriff’s Department request was an increase of $155,651.73, going from $3,437,566.80 to $3,593,218.53. The jail’s request went up by $106,859.80, going from $3,543,858.26 to $3,650,718.06.
Those increases, if approved, would be offset by a new state prisoner contract. Carter County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said the state’s annual payment to the county for housing state prisoners in the jail will increase from $360,000 this fiscal year to $900,000 next year.
Mathes said he is not pleased by the number of state prisoners in the jail, but he said these are mostly people who committed crimes in Carter County and many have to be housed in Carter County until a bed is available in a state prison.
An increase of $77,716.07 was requested by the Carter County Election Commission, going from $279,174.64 to $356,890.71. The increase is requested because the commission will have to conduct two elections next fiscal year instead of the single election that was conducted this fiscal year.
The Budget Committee reconvened to consider business for next week’s County Commission meeting. The committee unanimously agreed to a request from Workforce Development Complex Director Kim Eggers to divert the annual $41,000 rental payments made by Carter County Tomorrow to the county. The money will be used to pay back a loan for the repair of the roof on the second building of the complex. The roof will cost around $150,000.
Committee member Steve Chambers made the motion to approve the rent diversion. Chambers said the complex was providing an important service to young people by allowing them to stay in the county to get a higher education from Northeast State Community College, which is housed in the building.