Budget committee rejects proposed sheriff’s department budget

JACKSON, Tenn. — It was a contentious scene Wednesday afternoon at the Madison County Finance Department. The budget committee hoped to have their final budget proposal ready to present to the county commission.

The main topic of discussion was the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and their request for a $24 million budget, an increase of more than 10 percent from the previous year’s budget — one of the largest requests from any department.

Instead, the committee approved $22.2 million, a four percent increase.

“We allocated what we could, which was an overall increase from his budget from last year,” District 10 Commissioner Jason Compton said.

Sheriff John Mehr argued that the department needed more funds to help hire deputies and jail staff. At one point, he remarked that criminals would “run loose” if the committee decided to restrict funds.

Budget Committee Chairman Doug Stephenson said the committee wants them to use their money more efficiently.

“The budget committee did not feel like that was necessary for us to do. In other words, we need to be more efficient with the $22.2 [million] and what we’re doing,” Stephenson said.

The budget committee’s new proposed budget is now similar to what other county departments are expected to receive.

“Every department would like a big increase, but at some point we can only do what we can do,” Compton said.

We asked the sheriff for comment on the newly proposed budget, but he declined to speak on camera.

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