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Farris Asks Commissioners For Expanded Pay Options

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Farris Asks Commissioners For Expanded Pay Options

Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris focused on finding new avenues to improve employee pay in his $21 million fiscal year budget.

Farris told the Putnam County Budget Committee Monday night that he plans to introduce education-based pay incentives. He said the program offers pay increases to employees who have completed two years at an accredited university.

“Out of the 225 employees I have, about 25 percent have college degrees,” Farris said. “That’s pretty good, but they certainly…just another way to compensate them and let them know that we certainly appreciate their effort and we want to keep their expertise here. ”

Farris also asked that the county bolster its contribution to commissioned officers’ retirement funds. He said the state recently passed a Hazardous Duty Pay bill that allows officers to receive 10 percent extra in retirement pay each year.

“If only affects local law enforcement which is good because more often than not, we’re the lowest paid anyway to start with,” Farris said. “So that’s another way to help local law enforcement, so I certainly feel good that the commissioners will help us do those two things.”

Farris said after an unusually large budget increase over the last fiscal year, he tried to keep this one tight. He said this budget is filled with almost entirely absolute necessities.

Committee Member Robert Riddle said he wants to know if there is anything in the proposed budget the department can live without.

“I want you to have what you need,” Riddle said. “I do. But I’m trying not to raise taxes too.”

He said he would like to have some $250,000 of the department’s SRO grant allocated to new SRO vehicles, but if something on the budget has to go, he would accept pushing that to next year.

“I don’t think we’ve asked for anything here tonight that won’t continue making us one of the best Sheriff’s Offices in the state,” Farris said. “And certainly, we can do that without having to raise any taxes because it was very minimal tonight on my part.”

The budget estimates some $860,000 for jail phone calls and commissary combined and another $2.2 million from housing state inmates.

The proposed budget includes some $35,000 for the department’s helicopter and drones. He said the department uses the helicopter for some 10 hours each week and it has been a vital tool, along with the drones that are deployed weekly, at least. He said maintenance on the helicopter costs some $25,000 annually.

Farris said he does not feel like he is over-asking with the new proposed budget, noting that most everything included is required to keep the department and its many moving parts running.


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