By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – Citing a tight fiscal year for the county, three supervisors balked at a salary increase for Yalobusha County deputies during a recessed supervisor meeting held last Tuesday, Nov. 20.
Sheriff William “Lance” Humphreys appeared before the board earlier in the month and was asked to present a dollar figure needed to get the deputies pay in line with other departments in the county and surrounding areas.
Humphreys handed supervisors his request totaling $4,188 that he needed added to his sheriff’s budget line item.
Beat Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette was the first to address Humphreys’ request, telling the sheriff he supported him 100 percent but could not single out employees in one department in the county with a raise.
“I don’t want you or the deputies to think that I am not 100 percent for you,” Surrette said.
“We have 70 employees in the county, all good employees, all dedicated,” Surrette said. “Personally I would like to have given everybody a $200 or $150 raise last year, we just could not do it,” Surrette added.
Following Surrette’s comments, Beat One Supervisor Amos Sims reiterated similar thoughts, telling Humphreys he was not against it, but the request “put us over the barrel.”
“I had this same amount of money in my budget during the beginning of the budget (process),” Humphreys said.
“I lost one of my best officers over $200,” Humphreys added.
“I am not trying to buy loyalty, I am trying to get my guys where they can buy bread,” Humphreys said responding to an comment made by Surrette made in a previous meeting.
Humphreys’ request found favor with Beat Two Supervisor Tommy Vaughn, who argued he could not see how the board could not spend $4,000 on the sheriff’s request for law enforcement.
“I am not going to deny these folks,” Vaughn said.
Beat Five Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman next offered input, asking if Humphreys could shift money currently being paid to 11 part-time deputies to give the six full-time deputies the pay increase.
“I would suggest shifting money from part-time to full-time,” Tillman recommended.
Humphreys responded, saying that his part-time deputies were also necessary to run the department.
“That would leave me putting deputies by themselves, I am not going to do that,” Humphreys told the board, adding that he primarily uses four part-time deputies to help cover the shifts.
At that point Vaughn motioned to amend the sheriff’s budget, adding that the county had the money available without a change in taxes.
“If the money is there, I don’t have a problem with it,” Beat Four Supervisor George Suggs offered.
Following a lull of silence, Suggs asked, “Do we have the money?”
Vaughn quickly answered, pointing to a five percent savings the county experience in their helathcare insurance would cover the $4,000.
Following another lull of silence, Tillman told Humphreys that he was 100 percent for him, but giving raises to one department would “open a big ol’ can of worms.”
“I had the increase my budget,” Humphreys reminded supervisors again.
Vaughn then told board members that workers in other departments are “not getting shot at,” as his earlier motion to amend Humphreys budget still lacked a second.
“My guys do some mighty dangerous jobs,” Surrette replied.
Vaughn’s motion died for a lack of a second and supervisors moved to the next item on the agenda.