Citizens for Better Government

Blount County Tennessee

 

Sheriff and his top officials got generous increases in compensation

 

When the Mayor asked the Sheriff to cut 12.8% from his budget, he refused. The fact that he is spending nearly 25% more than the average of Sheriff’s departments in the three Tennessee counties closest to Blount County in population did not faze Sheriff Berrong at all.

 

All the while, the Sheriff has failed to point out that he, and many of his top officials, have been generously compensated over the last few years. The table below shows their compensation increases far exceed those of most taxpayers, who will struggle to pay the 21% tax increase that is the result of the refusal of some of our county officials to trim their budgets.

 

At the recent meeting the Mayor held with county employees, several high profile members of the Sheriff’s department attacked the Mayor for ‘only’ taking a 12.8% salary cut, while they claimed, they had not had a salary increase in years. They failed to point out that the Mayor had cut expenses in all the departments that he controls by 12.8%. Then, these Sheriff’s officials launched an attack on the schools and teacher’s salaries.

 

The Talbott family, Ron and wife Cathy, took top compensation honors, with a combined compensation rising from $103,394 in 2007 to $111,305 in 2010. The top ten Sheriff’s officials in compensation enjoyed increases from 6.5% to 28.9% from 2007 to2010. In addition, virtually all the 41 officials listed also have tax-free county-owned take home cars (many are unmarked cars and SUVs), free gas at the county pump, free insurance and free maintenance. They also enjoy excellent medical benefits, fully paid by the county, and generous retirement benefits. These benefits are worth at least another $10,000 to $15,000 in compensation.

 

The most boisterous critics of the Mayor and the schools, at the recent employee meeting, Rick Baker and Jarrod Millsaps, enjoyed compensation increases of 7.6% and 22.1% respectively.

 

Disturbingly, Sheriff’s officials who demonstrated highly questionable ethics over the last few years, seemed to do quite well. Talbott was a key player in an alleged scheme that resulted in a seized NASCAR-edition truck being sold to one of his relatives, without an auction, at a price that was many thousands of dollars below its value. Baker, along with Wiburn and England used county funds to purchase bogus college diplomas. Yet, they all saw compensation increases. In fact, we understand that Baker was promoted, and is now in charge of training new officers.

 

Before the Sheriff and his friends start throwing stones at the schools, other county departments, and the taxpayers, they need to look inward.

 

Name

2007 Total Compensation

2010 Total Compensation

% Increase

J L BERRONG

$90,796

$98,395

8.4%

R A DUNN SR

$80,836

$86,106

6.5%

A L GARNER

$70,746

$75,335

6.5%

S C LAWHORN

$67,440

$73,597

9.1%

J B LONG, II

$68,979

$73,378

6.4%

J R FRENCH, II

$68,224

$72,722

6.6%

R G TALBOTT

$64,309

$70,652

9.9%

C A TALBOTT

$39,085

$40,653

4.0%

R J ORR

$53,722

$69,244

28.9%

R H RUNYON

$60,478

$67,718

12.0%

G A HAMILTON

$58,966

$64,864

10.0%

D E NEUBERT JR

$58,940

$64,189

8.9%

J L WIDENER

$56,375

$63,651

12.9%

W HEADRICK

$57,562

$63,282

9.9%

R P NEASE

$58,202

$60,521

4.0%

R MERCKS

$55,485

$60,477

9.0%

R S AYCOCKE

$57,710

$59,957

3.9%

P A ENGLAND

$56,787

$59,824

5.3%

R W AILEY

$51,840

$58,897

13.6%

J D ADAMS

$56,427

$58,615

3.9%

D H WHEELER

$52,204

$58,175

11.4%

S K HACKNEY

$52,973

$57,965

9.4%

M A SERATT

$49,316

$55,175

11.9%

S C CARSWELL

$43,694

$55,019

25.9%

D R BENSON

$51,369

$54,944

7.0%

J C TRENTHAM

$46,138

$54,876

18.9%

R S BLANKENSHIP

$43,099

$54,815

27.2%

D R WILBURN

$53,466

$54,798

2.5%

W M MCKINNIS

$49,818

$54,113

8.6%

E L PERRIN

$48,388

$53,878

11.3%

J D CLARK

$49,128

$52,824

7.5%

R N PORTER

$43,122

$52,237

21.1%

J B MILLSAPS

$41,651

$50,866

22.1%

M D MOORE

$46,178

$50,776

10.0%

H L SLAGLE, III

$46,341

$50,523

9.0%

R D POSTEL

$44,599

$50,342

12.9%

J S BURCHFIELD

$42,829

$49,431

15.4%

R M BAKER

$45,379

$48,816

7.6%

W T EVERETT

$44,462

$48,625

9.4%

D E WHEELER

$41,452

$47,806

15.3%

Source: Blount County Payroll

Total Compensation includes salaries, bonuses and overtime.

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