Pubdate: Fri, 30 Apr 2004
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Oak Ridger
Author: Donna Smith
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WHITE: Regional Meth Task Force Could Be Looking To Locate In Anderson County.

CLINTON - Although Anderson County Mayor Rex Lynch's county budget proposal 
includes most of Sheriff Bill White's requests for next fiscal year, White 
protested the elimination of $26,728 from a secretarial salary account 
saying it would hinder fighting methamphetamine in the area. "Are we ready 
to take a step backwards with it (the meth-fighting program)," Commissioner 
Chuck Fritts asked in advocating that the secretarial account be increased 
from Lynch's proposed $32,457 to White's $58,240.

But, Commissioner Myron Iwanski said the sheriff has the biggest budget in 
the county general fund and he could find the money for the secretary's 
salary within the budget if it was a priority.

"I think it should be funded by the county," White said. The Sheriff told 
the county Budget Committee Thursday that the secretary's wages have been 
paid for the last year and a half through a grant, but that grant is ending.

He said the secretary works as the secretary for the regional meth task 
force, a job he described as one that calls for a great amount of paperwork 
to be submitted to the various law enforcement agencies and U.S. Department 
of Justice.

She also works as his personal secretary, along with being secretary to the 
Civil Service Board. Budget Director Gail Cook said the secretary gets an 
additional amount for serving as the board's secretary.

Describing the success of the meth task force in Anderson County, White 
said 60 meth labs have been cleaned up. He added that Anderson County is 
the headquarters for the multi-county task force and the head of the 
program is looking to locate in the county and hire several local people. 
Fritts said White's efforts against meth are recognized throughout East 

"Chuck (Fritts), that's the problem we have with grants," Commissioner 
Rickey Rose said.

Rose explained that people's salaries shouldn't be tied into grants because 
when the grants end the local government must take on the total cost or 
layoff the employees.

"Our drug problem is going to continue to get worse," White said, adding 
that the elimination of the secretary would slow down meth-fighting efforts 
by slowing down the process.

Chief Deputy Lewis Ridenour pointed out the large number of citations 
written by the Sheriff's Department, explaining that those citations bring 
a large amount of money to the county for other budgets, an average of $190 
each citation. Most Sheriff's Departments don't issue citations, he said.

"I hear what you're saying, but we put a million dollars of cold cash into 
your department," Rose said.

Ridenour said the Sheriff's Department's budget and role has increased 
greatly over the years, as has the ambulance service. Chief Deputy Mark 
Lucas chimed in that no longer is Anderson County a rural area where the 
Sheriff's Department might not get a call for several nights, but instead a 
suburban area in which deputies are hard-pressed to get to every citizen 
that calls for help.

White pointed out that one of his 22 patrol deputies had been called up for 
military service because of the Iraq situation and four more are slated to 
be called up soon for 18-month terms with the National Guard. When Rose 
said the Sheriff would surely have to temporarily fill those vacancies 
until the Guardsmen's return, White said that no one wants a temporary 
assignment and few want a deputies' job in Anderson County because of the 
low pay.

Iwanski said the Sheriff's Department budget had grown more since White was 
elected than any other budget in the county.

"How far do you go? It's a tradeoff," Iwanski said. "Unless you're going to 
fund a tax increase, how are you going to fund these things?"

The Sheriff's Department budget proposal is $2.6 million in 2004-2005 
compared to $2.5 million this year. The proposed budget for the jail is 
nearly $2.7 million for next fiscal year compared to nearly $2.5 million 
this year.

Budget Director Gail Cook reminded Budget Committee members that a jail 
consulting company will return to the County Commission with 
recommendations on how to ease overcrowding at the jail. County officials 
said they believe those recommendations may include expanding the jail.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom