BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. June 24 2017— Sullivan County is struggling to compensate court security officers, and as a result some haven’t worked in several weeks.
Sullivan County Circuit Court Clerk Tommy Kerns said Thursday that revenues from court costs are improving to cover pay for court security officers. But seven part-time employees haven’t worked in six weeks and won’t return until at least the first week of July, when the new fiscal year begins.
All court security officers are Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office deputies. When part-time officers aren’t covering security at the Bristol, Blountville and Kingsport justice centers and Kingsport City Hall, other Sheriff’s Office personnel, mostly process servers, have to cover the shifts.
The county’s court security program is self-funded by revenues from the $25 court fees.
Money has also been tight to cover payroll for part-time and full-time court security officers this year. To cut costs, the county’s Court Security Committee in April approved temporarily laying off the program’s six part-time security officers. The committee didn’t determine on Thursday whether the part-time officers will return to work the first week of July.
The committee approved transferring $12,000 from the program’s $22,000 reserve fund. In April, $5,500 was transferred from the fund to cover payroll. All revenue from June will go back into the reserve fund, which Kerns projected will bring the balance up to between $20,000 and $30,000.
“I think we’re starting to move back in the right direction on collecting fees,” said Kerns, who is also a member of the committee.
More than $38,100 was collected in May.