“If he thinks that he needs two corrections officers more than he needs two cooks, and it’s not going to cost us any more money, then I’m going to support that request,” Commissioner Matthew Rice said. The committee agreed to allow Sheriff Mike Hensley to use funds that were budgeted to pay two full-time cooks to instead be used to fund two full-time correctional officer positions. In a prior meeting, Hensley addressed the committee to inform them he had abolished two full-time and two part-time cook positions in the Unicoi County Jail and Jail Annex.
The committee also discussed the budgets of nonprofit agencies during the meeting. While the majority of nonprofits were budgeted to receive the same amount as they were granted during the 2020-21 fiscal year, the committee agreed to use funding saved from the sheriff’s budget to meet the Unicoi County Public Library’s 2021-22 budget request of $31,500, and the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center’s budgeted request of $31,000. The committee also agreed to give Unicoi County Search and Rescue $7,000 of the $10,000 requested for operating costs.
The total amount budgeted for the four cook positions was approximately $98,000. The cost to fund two part-time correctional officers is roughly $76,000. The committee also agreed to cut $15,000 in overtime pay from the sheriff’s budget because of the additional correctional officers, which reduced the sheriff’s budget by $37,000.
“I served on the library board for several years, and they struggle every year,” Commissioner Loren Thomas said. “They do all kinds of fundraisers and there’s a lot of people that use the library and don’t realize how much they struggle.”
The budget will be presented to the full County Commission for a first reading during the June 28 meeting at 6 p.m. in the Unicoi County Courthouse.
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