(BEDFORD) - The Lawrence County Council approved the 2013 budget of $20.3 million dollar Tuesday night.
But not before some heated discussion about increasing the salary for county deputies. Every county employee will see a 3 percent increase.
But the sheriff's Department asked for an additional $1,500 for each of their 24 deputies.
That request came after they learned an investigator at the Prosecutor's Office was making that much more than a deputy, who had the same skills.
Councilmen Keith Dillman and Mike Wright were against the additional increase saying the council was to be advocates for the taxpayers - but approving the increase was not doing that.
"The 3 percent increase was generous," Dillman says. "In the public sector, people are lucky to have jobs and many are taking pay cuts just to stay employed. I believe we should have made cuts to the budget 2 to 3 years ago. We are very fortunate to be where we are. Three percent is a very good increase. I don't know of any public entity that has given more than a 2 percent increase."
Dilliman provided the council with research supporting his position. He showed that officers in Monroe County were the only officers in the nearest 7 counties that made more money than Lawrence County officers.
"I am firmly against this," Dillman says. "I cannot justify raising 24 deputies salaries."
Wright agreed saying "I can't do it....Throwing that much money away."
President Jim Edwards says it was important to address the issue and Councilmen Justin Mullis agreed.
"I am comfortable with my decision," Mullis says. "I put a premium on public safety."
The salary increase passed 3 to 2 with Dillman and Wright voting against the increase.
In other business:
The council approved a 10-year tax abatement for PRD and D&M Tools. The money will be used to purchase equipment and real estate. With the improvements, the company plans to hire 19 more employees.
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