Unicoi Co. Sheriff voices concern at Budget and Finance Committee meeting

ERWIN, TN (WJHL) – Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley voiced concern in today’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting that the department is having a hard time keeping officers.

The sheriff’s department’s concerns took up most of the almost three hour long committee meeting.

Tuesday, Hensley told News Channel 11 that Unicoi County is in need of more ambulances.

When asked if he can work with the numbers presented to him, Sheriff Hensley said: “no I cannot.”

Hensley says his office is short staffed and officers are leaving the county department to go to city police departments, many are leaving because of benefits.

“The problem I’ve got here is I don’t have a big department and when I’ve got older people to take these municipality jobs, which they have and you can’t blame them,” Hensley said.

When experienced officers leave the new ones then have to be trained. Two positions were cut so Hensley could give raises, but he says those raises are not much.

“In order for me to keep these people from going I try to give a little incentive, these two positions that I cut and gave raises, you look at how much that raise amounted to compared to their salary,” Hensley said.

Sheriff Hensley insists that when he asks for something it is absolutely necessary. The committee assured him that they have his back.

“If push comes to shove you can come back to us,” a committee member said.

Sheriff Hensley didn’t bring up the lack of ambulances in the county today but Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch hopes things can be worked out.

“I hope that we can come to some kind of agreement with this company to at least finish out the contract that we have because this has been the most stable company we have dealt with,” Mayor Lynch said.

The sheriff’s department’s budget took up most of the committee’s time this afternoon as they continue to work on their budget. Mayor Lynch said that the committee plans to have the budget in place by Aug. 8 and have it passed by Aug. 22.

The CEO of Medic One Medical Response is expected to come to Unicoi County in the coming weeks to address Sheriff Hensley’s concerns on the number of ambulances in service.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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