JEFFERSON-Not long after his appointment, Sheriff Terry Buchanan said he received an unexpected phone call from former sheriff James Williams.
What was the purpose of the call?
It wasn’t to discuss the unfolding political fallout that came with the commissioners’ selection of Buchanan over Bucky Absher, who was Williams’ right-hand-man, for the position of sheriff.
No. Instead, Williams wanted to talk money with Buchanan.
“He advised me the board was cheating me out of $20,000 in salary,” Buchanan told commissioners during the bimonthly board meeting Monday morning. “I can play you the message, if you want.”
After consulting with the N.C. Sheriff’s Association, Buchanan said he believes he should be paid the same salary as the outgoing sheriff he replaced at the beginning of the year.
Buchanan’s salary inquiry was the last of three financial requests the sheriff’s office placed before the board Monday.
Currently, Buchanan makes $64,245 annually. Williams, however, brought home $82,851.
Before making any decision on future appropriations to Buchanan’s salary, Commissioner Jeff Rose said he wanted to consult with the county attorney and the NCSA.
“My concern is the chief sitting right there (in the audience) and people sitting at the sheriff’s office,” said Buchanan on his reason for making the request.
“We need to do what’s right,” added Commissioner Gary Roark about the salary amendment.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve an additional request of $2,000 for the jail administrator position.
Due to turnover at the jail and vacation payouts, the county needs the appropriation to the fill the vacancy in the admin position immediately. This money will come from the county’s contingency fund and not the fund balance.
Commissioner Larry Rhodes asked Yearick why similar requests haven’t been made to fill “critical positions” during his 19-year tenure on the board.
“A lot times, we will have jobs open up that are not as critical,” Yearick explained. “We will let them go for about month until we can hire back. About everyone of our jobs, we budget at 100 percent. What we do is adjust and hire down the road and a lot of times, it doesn’t matter. In this situation, it is one of the positions that oversees the entire operation of the jai.”
Additionally, the commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the reclassification of a vacant sergeant position in the narcotics division to an administrative captain position, which will increase the paygrade from 66 to 71.
Buchanan said the captain’s position, which was previously eliminated by Williams, is necessary to ensure the completion of administrative duties and to fulfill a supervisory role for the patrol division. He said the captain position will also play a huge role in writing policies and procedures, which he believes the agency sorely needs.
Additionally, the captain could also fill in for lieutenants on the night patrol shift and in other departments. Other duties of the captain would include scheduling of unit activities, resolving personnel issues, performing exit reviews and providing performance evaluations.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.