ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Commission approved two motions Tuesday night to provide additional funding to employees of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
The first motion was to offer a $3,000 bonus to all full-time employees of the Sheriff’s Department except Sheriff Dexter Lunceford. The motion also authorized a $1,500 bonus for part-time employees working 20 hours or more regularly per pay period. The bonus will be paid quarterly, ending June 30 and is retroactive to October 1. Funding will come from salary that has already been budgeted for this fiscal year, but has not been paid due to a shortage of employees. No money will be needed from the county fund balance to pay the bonuses.
The second motion calls for an immediate pay increase of $1,000 per year for full-time jailers at Carter County Jail, stipulating that the increase must be certified by the department head for each affected employee.
This too will be funded by the same unpaid salaries caused by a staff shortage. Deputy Chief James Parrish said there are currently 40 employees who would be eligible for the $1,000 raise, which would therefore represent a $40,000 increase. Parrish told the commission that there were 60 jailer posts in the prison.
The decision to secure the funding originally came a few months ago when Lunceford spoke of staff shortages and sought to provide the bonuses and pay rises on unpaid wages in order to attract new jailers. Lunceford cited the low starting salary of $12 an hour as one of the reasons for the staffing shortage.
The Commission also approved a motion for up to $70,000 from law enforcement equipment money for Wi-Fi hotspots, related communications equipment and night vision equipment for the sheriff’s department from a public safety reserve account.
The County Commission also approved a resolution in support of a broadband infrastructure expansion project for Carter County. The resolution noted that “the lack of available broadband in underserved and rural communities has negatively impacted education, employment, and economic development opportunities in Carter County for many years, an issue that has been exacerbated by the cornavidrus pandemic.”
In passing the resolution, the commission said it “fully supports the expansion of broadband infrastructure in Carter County to meet the critical need for reliable high-speed Internet access in underserved parts of the county.” and that if SkyLine/SkyBest of Jefferson, NC is approved and it receives a grant through the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, the company will be the only approved vendor for the project in Carter County and the commission has approved the waiver process. normal bidding requiring a 30% match.
The commission also received an update on the Carter County Parks and Recreation Board from its chairman, Ken Gough.