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Hutchins: Deputy sheriff pay issue has become ‘black eye’ for the community

Tim Hutchins, the Republican candidate for Nelson County judge executive, speaks to members of the news media Thursday morning in front of the Old Courthouse. The entire interview is available on the Nelson County Gazette Facebook page.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 — Tim Hutchins, the former magistrate running as a Republican for Nelson County Judge Executive, spoke to members of the media briefly Thursday morning in front of the Old Courthouse about the sheriff’s complaints about inadequate pay for his deputies.

Hutchins said he’s frequently asked to weigh on the debate about improving the pay for deputies who are funded by Nelson Fiscal Court and perform law enforcement duties countywide for the sheriff’s office.

He stressed that he has a long record of being a strong supporter of law enforcement. The debate about law enforcement pay has been a source of friction due to statements from the judge executive’s office and the sheriff’s office rebuttal.

The issues is “a black eye” for the community, he said. The issue has even attracted the attention of Louisville media.

He said that his Democratic opponent Eric Shelburne — currently a member of fiscal court — has not offered solutions regarding deputy pay that he’s been able to see.

“You have to be a leader, not a follower,” he said of himself and his record as magistrate.

A number of police agencies in the area have recently increased pay to improve officer retention, including the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Kentucky State Police and the Bardstown Police Department, he explained.

Hutchins didn’t offer specifics, but said he believes there’s room in the current budget to remedy the pay situation in the sheriff’s office without raising taxes.

While all county employees received a 7 percent pay increase for Fiscal Year 2023, he said that a number of individual employees received pay raises on top of that across-the-board raise. Those raises to individuals were not discussed publicly at fiscal court, Hutchins said, and that’s been the source of additional frustration within the sheriff’s office.

He said he’s confident there are other ways to trim expenses in the county’s budget to save money that could go toward improving deputies salaries.

“If I’m elected I’ll do everything in my power” to make sure the deputies have a more competitive pay scale.

“We’ve got to make this thing work, and I know it can be done without raising taxes,” he said.

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