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Fiscal Court vote to hire another deputy ties

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By Jeff Moore

A motion to hire another deputy for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office died Tuesday at fiscal court due to a tie 2-2 vote.

District 1 Magistrate Floyd Bowling made a motion to hire the additional deputy near the end of the Aug. 12 meeting. District 3 Magistrate Mark Bates seconded the motion. Bowling and Bates cast the two votes in favor of the request from Sheriff Jamie Kinman at the last fiscal court meeting for the additional deputy.

District 2 Magistrate Dean Miller and Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson voted against the request.

Tomlinson said the discussion on an additional deputy needs to begin with the sheriff coming to his office to discuss it and justify the need. He looked at Kinman during the meeting and told him it would have been “nice” if he had done that, but that instead he took it to magistrates.

Miller asked where the money for the position would come from.

Neither Bowling nor Bates responded to his question.

“All I want is the sheriff to justify why we need another deputy,” Tomlinson said.

He said he does not like that people are saying that fiscal court does not support the sheriff’s office. Tomlinson said the court has always given the sheriff the vehicles he has requested and has funded another full-time person in the sheriff’s office.

Audience member Renzie Smith spoke up saying he believes the county needs another deputy because of the drug problem the community is facing. He said he would support paying higher taxes to help fund another deputy and believes themajority of people would too.

Miller asked Kinman how much he believes he would need for the additional deputy. The sheriff said about $50,000.

But then Miller questioned him on whether he would need to purchase another vehicle for the deputy to drive. Presently, Kinman said he could use an older vehicle that was just replaced, but then agreed that eventually another vehicle would be needed.

Miller said he would like to see what the actual cost would be to add the position.

Audience member Cody Human began to speak referring to the number of deputies the county has in comparison to nearby counties. But Tomlinson cut him off, saying the fiscal court had heard all of that before.

The debate on the number of deputies centers around the fact that the city of Carrollton has 10 officers, meaning there are a total of 15 members in law enforcement within Carroll County. Some contend that three deputies and the sheriff are enough for the county, considering this overall number is higher than neighboring counties.

DJ Carroll, who is running for magistrate in District 3, asked about the sheriff’s office budget and how its funding has been impacted by raises, fuel prices and other factors through the years.

Tomlinson said fiscal court has worked with the office to cover 3 percent raises and to prevent lowering the tax rate or other actions from affecting the department’s funding. If it is a problem, he said the sheriff needs to come to him and discuss the issue.

When Carroll began to ask a question about the court meeting its fiscal responsibility to the sheriff’s office, Tomlinson cut him off by saying he was getting political. Tomlinson told Carroll if he wants to discuss that he can come to his office.

Several people in the audience pointed to the drug problems the county is facing as the reason for needing an additional deputy.

Kinman said he needs four deputies to be able to make some kind of dent in what many are calling an epidemic.

But Tomlinson said the drug problem has increased across the Commonwealth and that his justification would mean everyone needs additional officers.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Tomlinson and Kinman left the meeting room and went into the judge-executive’s office. Moments later, the pair opened the door and shook hands.

While they had not reached an agreement on the issue of the additional deputy, both agreed that this is not due to them not liking each other.  Kinman pointed out that he and Tomlinson’s son attended the police academy together and even shared an apartment.

“We’re friends,” Kinman said. “We like each other.” Tomlinson agreed, saying their disagreement is nothing personal. “It’s business,” he said.

Kinman said he will be meeting with Tomlinson in the near future to have the discussion on the justification for the additional deputy.