Sheriff’s office must adjust to tax defeat

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Update: 6:10 pm, 11/9/16, Wednesday 

MACON COUNTY — Election Day didn’t go very well for area law enforcement. The sheriff’s office was hoping voters would approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase to help fill jobs, but 64% of voters said “no.”

Right now, the department is down several people. They say there are five positions in patrol and corrections which need to be filled.

The hope was to hire five new deputies with money generated through the tax. Now that it’s been rejected, they have to get creative.

“We have to support our law enforcement. If we don’t support our law enforcement, we’re in trouble.”

If more people had voted for a tax in the sheriff office’s favor, this wouldn’t be the case.

“We have five positions that will not be filled immediately.”

Lt. Jon Butts says he’d be lying if he said people at MCSO weren’t disappointed in the outcome.

“The voters spoke. We’re going to go with that because we respect their decision. We want to make sure we do the best we can with what we’ve got. With that being said, we just move forward.”

The first order of business is filling the five jobs in patrol and corrections. Butts says they need to be filled immediately. He says vacant shifts in corrections will be filled by overtime, but patrol duties will fall on those with specialized positions.

Those being reassigned include a school resource officer, a US Marshal, a street crimes detective and a drug and addiction officer.

“We’ve got to make sure that officers on the street are able to provide immediate services to the people that need it.”

Butts says it’s a setback, but one they can bounce back from. Despite the challenge, he says the people they serve shouldn’t feel any less safe.

“I can promise you this, the citizens of Macon County, that law enforcement services by the sheriff’s office will continue to be professional, will continue to be where needed.”

Leaders say they’ll be meeting with county executives next week to discuss what’s expected of them and what options there might be moving forward.

It isn’t the first time the county has voted on a tax increase for law enforcement. In 2001, employee cuts were made. The tax increase went on the ballot and voters approved it. They say all those jobs were filled because of it. 

Original: 4:45 pm, 11/7/16, Monday

MACON COUNTY — Tuesday’s election could have an impact on the sheriff’s office.

They hope a quarter-cent sales tax increase will pass.

The department was told it had to cut more than $600,000 from its budget. It could mean ten fewer employees.

If voters say “yes” to the referendum, it could restore the department’s original budget.

 

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