Fiscal Court Recap: County Attorney Discusses Shortage Of Law Enforcement Personnel Due To Several Factors
Vote Tabled For Road Supervisor Pay Increase
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Fiscal Court met virtually on Monday, October 25, 2021. In addition to several routine county office reports, Edmonson County Attorney Greg Vincent addressed a short conversation that was had at the last fiscal court meeting regarding a possible miscommunication between a magistrate and the Sheriff's Office.
Vincent, who was unable to attend the last meeting, asked to speak on the matter with what he described as a unique perspective. He said that it's likely the Sheriff's Office is feeling like they aren't getting the support they need from the fiscal court, but fiscal court is doing what they can with the budget they have; however, he said it's more likely that neither group is seeing the other factors involved that make things difficult for the Sheriff.
Vincent first commended fiscal court for funding the current Sheriff's Office at a level that has never been done. This fiscal court is funding more officers than it’s ever had, with better equipment and better vehicles; however, Vincent said there are other needs the Sheriff's Office has, due to additional factors outside the control of fiscal court that are pressuring the office.
"In the last 10 years, this county's population has grown by close to 20%, if I (correctly) read the most recent estimates from the census coming in," Vincent said. "That's basically saying five uniformed police officers to cover 12,000 people in a county that's the same size (physically) as Grayson, Warren, Butler, Barren, all those counties which are the same size as us, they have multiple police forces. That alone gives you an idea of why you'd feel pressured."
Vincent also said ten years ago, the county had up to three State Police Troopers stationed in Edmonson County.
"We had guys from Edmonson County that grew up here and lived here that would get assigned back here who wanted to make sure that was taken care of," he said. "State Police has changed that policy and said they wanted more flexibility, but there are currently no State Troopers assigned to this county."
Vincent said the lack of State Police presence in the county has forced the Sheriff's Office to pick up that extra coverage, with no additional manpower and very little additional funding. He said that in ten years, the Sheriff's staff has increased by only one full time deputy but the county overall has lost nearly 6 uniformed officers from state and city departments.
"There are different things that have contributed to why the Sheriff's Office would feel pressured or overwhelmed that have nothing to do with fiscal court funding and I felt these things needed to be addressed by someone who's dealt with both sides in this discussion and point out that neither one of you is to blame. This is just how it's come about. The state is not doing their job, the city--I don't know if they're not doing it or just can't, but regardless, you've lost 5 and-a-half regular, uniformed, police officers in this county in the last 10 years, and that's why your Sheriff's Office is stretched thin at this time."
No magistrate responded but Judge Executive Wil Cannon, a retired state trooper, said he agreed with most of what Vincent said.
Cannon said that there was one other trooper assigned to Edmonson County when he was a trooper in the early and mid-2000s, and the other one also had special assignments, which required him to be absent from the county at times. He also noted that he, himself had to cover parts of Warren and Hart Counties, although he was assigned to Edmonson County.
"They've been dealing with the issue of not having permanent troopers assigned here for many, many, many years," Cannon said. "That was going on when you first became County Attorney." Cannon also said the City of Brownsville also fluctuated between 2-3 officers for years, which he said was the case when he served as a city officer there in 2009.
Cannon also noted that the county still needed an animal shelter and at this point, he didn't know how it would be funded, and that county funds couldn't be allocated for just one spot. He said there could be a potential grant available for another deputy, but it would have to be 25% funded by the county over a period of 4 years; however, maybe by that time the county could feasibly add another full time deputy.
Calls requesting comment from the Kentucky State Police were not immediately returned, however, they later provided a written statement which was published in an additional article that can read by clicking here.
County Clerk Kevin Alexander announced that candidates can file to run for county offices beginning on November 3rd. He said all candidates must also submit a form to the state election finance committee. Candidates will have until January 7th to file for office.
County Road Supervisor Salary Increase: After magistrates voted down a $4K salary increase for Greg Carroll on September 27th, the same item reappeared on today's agenda. Judge Cannon warned magistrates that the county would stand to lose up to $5 million in FEMA disaster road aid projects if the county loses any more manpower at the road department and that Greg Carroll had been averaging approximately 20hrs of overtime per week.
County Attorney Vincent addressed that comment and noted that salary employees are not subject to overtime at all. Salaried employees get paid the same no matter how many hours are logged. Judge Cannon acknowledged Vincent and said he misspoke. He said what he meant was that Carroll was working an additional 20hrs per week on top of a regular 40hr work week.
Magistrate Charlie Tarter made a motion to table the discussion until January so that he has time to discuss the increase with his constituents, and if the increase would be justifiable. The motion was seconded by Mark Meeks and a roll call vote was held to table the salary increase which included the following votes: Charlie Tarter yes, Johnny Brooks no, James Vincent yes, Corey VanMeter yes, Edd Rich no, Mark Meeks yes. The 4-2 vote to table the pay increase vote until January passed.
The next Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting is scheduled for November 8, 2021 at 9AM and will be held virtually.