Budget cuts could force Perry County jail to close - WKRN News 2

Budget cuts could force Perry County jail to close

Posted: Updated: July 25, 2013 05:11 PM CDT
LINDEN, Tenn. -

The Perry County Sheriff's Office said if planned budget cuts are approved by the county commission the department will have to fire deputies and reduce the number of inmates housed in the county jail.

The county commission is set to hold a final vote on the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year budget Friday evening.

The county commission will also consider a six-cent property tax increase to help cover a budget shortfall.

On a home with a $100,000 appraised value that would increase the tax bill for the county by around $16.

According to the sheriff's office, the commission plans to cut about $157,000 from their budget, including $100,000 from the sheriff's department and $57,000 from the jail.

"It would be a big loss," Perry County Sheriff Chief Deputy Nick Weems said. "Law enforcement equipment that we use throughout the year like ammunition, Taser cartridges and other things would be cut."

Under the proposed cuts, the department would also layoff two deputies. Chief Deputy Weems said a school resource officer and a drug interdiction deputy would likely be the first fired.

The jail would also have to cut its inmate capacity, which would mean state and out of county inmates would not be housed in the Perry County jail anymore.

The sheriff's office estimates those inmates generate between $350,000 and $400,000 annually for the department because the county is paid a daily rate for housing the inmates.

Weems said the department would also have to end some inmate programs like the trustee lawn service and farm at the county jail.

The food grown on the farm is used to feed inmates and is given to the needy.

"I think voters need to be aware of what is taking place and show up at the meeting and voice their concerns," Weems said.

In Cedar Creek, the volunteer fire department is concerned about losing a $5,000 yearly stipend from the Perry County Commission they use to pay the insurance for their fire trucks.

Without insurance the fire department cannot legally drive the fire trucks when responding to a fire.

"It means they won't have fire service period," former Cedar Creek Volunteer Fire Chief Billy Icenogle said. "The fundraisers we hold now pay for the maintenance and fuel for the equipment."

At the Perry County Senior Center, seniors worry a cut in funding will mean fewer programs for them to enjoy during the day.

"It provides socialization for older people who don't have any other opportunity for them to talk," center member Marguerite Breda said. "You have to remember that Walmart is 20 miles away and there is no movie theatre."

Seniors and others who oppose the budget cuts plan to rally on the steps of the Perry County Courthouse before the commissioner's meeting at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

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