HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Sheriff Jim Hammond spoke at the Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday, October 28th, asking for a raise of more than $20,000.
According to Lee Brounder, Assistant Director of Finance, the Sheriff is currently being paid the minimum rate as established by State Law. $143,335.00 per year.
The request from Hammond came after his announcement that his wife is currently hospitalized at Erlanger with COVID-19. He was recently released from the hospital after his own battle with the virus.
Sheriff Hammond will be taking over operation of Silverdale Detention Center by the end of 2020, and says he is asking for adequate compensation for the additional workload. Hammond wants the downtown county jail shut down by the end of the year as the transition to Silverdale takes place.
Hammond asked for his salary to be raised from $143,335 a year to $163,930, along with associated benefits.
District 3 Commissioner Greg Martin stated that the Sheriff “Just got a raise of three and a half percent on July 1st…. I have a hard time in the midst of the Pandemic, businesses closings and people getting laid off, with going down this path.”
District 5 Commissioner Katherlyn Geter said, “How can we even entertain such a thought as to increase your compensation when we are already having a shortfall in hiring many of the positions that you yourself and your department has brought forth before us?”
District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey was in favor of the raise. He asked “Why must we always go to the minimum?” He argued that the Sheriff has done a good job so far and “You get what you pay for.”
“This I think could be a legacy for me going forward, but very frankly, I am frustrated that I am at the low end of the sheriff’s scale pay across the state,” said Hammond.
Outlined in a slideshow presentation presented to the Commission, Sheriff Spangler in Knox County is paid $176,664.54, approximately $23,000 over the minimum.
District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd stated that Hamilton County should not follow other Tennessee counties in matters of finances and budgeting. He expressed that the reason Hamilton County is successful is largely due to its more conservative spending structure.
The proposed increase would provide an approximate increase of $25,149.00 (including benefits) based on FY 2020-2021 salary.
Sheriffs may receive additional compensation set by the county legislative body for ex-officio services as workhouse superintendent.
The sheriff stated that more than 70 percent of the employees in Silverdale are not eligible to work for the sheriff’s office, so this request is an effort to compensate for the lack of personnel.