Voters Approve Deputy Pay Raises

There was an important win for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department Tuesday night. More than 72 percent of the county's voters approved a 22 percent pay increase for sheriff's employees. Under the new guidelines, Cherokee County deputies will take home $27,000 a year. Right now, they make $22,000.

County Clerk Harry Tilley says the county will use its budget surplus to cover the extra costs. But he says if the surplus runs out, taxpayers will have to pick up the rest.

Many voters took that chance willingly.

"I'm willing for my taxes to be higher to support this raise," said Louise Morris, manager of the Rusk Chamber of Commerce. "The job they do is very dangerous, and they deserve the raise."

Sheriff employees petitioned to get the raise on the ballot after negotiations with county commissioners failed to come through last summer. Employees celebrated their victory at a special luncheon inside the sheriff's department early Wednesday afternoon. They gave much of the credit to the voters.

"It all comes down to their votes, and we're greatly appreciated of their help during this campaign," said Lt.. Keith Radcliff, Vice President of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Employee Association.

The pay raise takes effect in January.

   Kerri Panchuk reporting.