The Rutherford County’s Sheriff’s Office is in the market to buy additional space in an effort to postpone a potential $10 million expansion.
School resource officers from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office must share space because of crowding in the administrative section of the county’s Adult Detention Center. (TMP/File Photo)
The Sheriff’s Office is looking for a 12,000-square-foot building to house some of its departments, including the patrol and detective divisions.
The request was discussed at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting last week, which is the second time the issue has gone through committees. It was initially presented in September 2011 as an expansion to the jail but was denied because funding was not available.
While the need for space is still imperative, Mayor Ernest Burgess and Sheriff Robert Arnold have devised a different plan that is substantially less expensive.
Arnold requested $1 million to purchase and renovate a building.
“We think this is a much better first step,” Burgess said. “And this structure we acquire, if and when we don’t need it again, we think we’ll be in a position to re-market that and sell if we choose to sell.”
Burgess reminded the committee there is ample land available at the Sheriff’s Office to build, but to build on the land would cost $8 million to $10 million. A project that is just out of reach for now.
“We will postpone the expenditure of $8 million plus for several years we hope,” Burgess said.
Chief Deputy of Administration Joe Russell explained purchasing a new building will also alleviate $41,000 per year the county pays in rental property for the Sheriff’s Office.
Funding the purchase of a new building will come from the Joe B. Jackson Highway project.
Finance Director Lisa Nolen explained Rutherford County borrowed the full $4 million for the road project because a good rate was offered, however it could be two or three years before those funds are needed.
“There will still be a million out there hanging to complete our portion of Joe B. Jackson,” Nolen said.
Commissioner Charlie Baum (Dist.14) asked why the county didn’t borrow an additional $1 million for the Sheriff’s Office project if the rate was so low.
Nolen explained that she simply did not know it was something the County Commission wanted to do.
Arnold’s request will move to the County Commission for final approval.
Direct Deposit Policy
All Rutherford County employees will likely be required to have direct deposit by Jan. 1, 2013.
The Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved a resolution to require all county employees to obtain direct deposit.
All current employees will have to make the change by Jan. 1, 2013, while new employees hired after May 1 will be required to set up direct deposit at the time of hire.
Finance Director Lisa Nolen explained it as a win-win situation for both the finance department and county employees.
“It’s safer because it will go straight to bank,” Nolen said.
Employees will not have to wait for their check to arrive in the mail and then take it to the bank or pay to have it cashed. Money will be available for employees to use on pay day. It will already be in their bank account.
Nolen explained employees who do not have a bank account will receive a card, which will have their funds ready to use and will in turn give them a bank account.
However, if someone wishes to have cash, they can go to Suntrust Bank and get their cash out if they prefer.
Nolen also explained the new policy will relieve some payroll labor and costs from the finance department.
“What I would like to get to is not only direct deposit, but have online pay stubs,” Nolen said. “Where we’re not even printing the stubs, but they are out there for the employee to access.”
The resolution will have to be approved by the County Commission, but has moved through committees unopposed.