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September 12, 2006

Martin County Sheriff to get $85,000 in 2007

SHOALS — When finalizing its budget on Monday, the Martin County Council continued its debate on how to pay County Sheriff Tony Dant.

After budget hearings in August, the council agreed to pay the sheriff $85,000 in 2007 and not let him have the leftover money from food purchases for jail inmates, as was done in previous years.

Monday, the council was not sure if it could pay the $85,000 due to a possible shortage of money coming in from Department of Corrections, although members finally agreed to the salary.

Presently, the jail has 48 inmates; 17 of those are from the state’s DOC. The state pays the jail $35 a day to house those inmates.

Council members Lynn Gee, Randy Wininger and Lonnie Hawkins were concerned with counties all across the state building jails, meaning the state will not have as many inmates to pass around. Thus, the $85,000 to be paid to Dant might be too much, they reasoned.

“What I am saying is we are going to have a trial run at this,” Wininger said. “I think we are talking about the same number in two different ways.”

Dant had to answer questions from the council early in the 9 a.m. session. He said it did not matter to him how he was paid. The sheriff said in August he would not accept anything less than $85,000 if the council were to take food receipts away from his control. Monday afternoon, Dant was called back in to answer more questions.

“I just want you to know that (cutting) money is an issue to me,” Dant said. “I don’t want to cut off money from my employees.”

After hearing from Dant again and asking questions about inmates from the state, Dant said the inmates he gets from the state do come in cycles, but he felt there would be enough to give the county revenue.

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