CLARKSVILLE — In their budget meeting, the Red River County commissioners approved a longevity pay raise for all county employees.

“It’s not much, but it’s a whole lot better,” County Judge J.D. Williamson said.

The county agreed to a $600 per year longevity pay raise for all county employees after controversy erupted during previous budget meetings, which included threats to quit if there was no pay raise this year for sheriff’s office employees. The county also approved the proposed budget at the meeting.

According to Camille Hines, the county auditor, the pay increases will cost the county $163,125 more in the budget. Williamson said the extra pay will come in the form of another paycheck right before Black Friday in November, an idea he got from another county judge who posted it online.

The county's longevity pay haven’t seen a raise in at least 10 years, Hines said.

The county also approved a one-time increase to the sheriff’s office budget for $27,500 to help the department purchase a new transport van for the prison. The transmission is slipping in the old van, Sheriff James Caldwell told the court, and putting a “$2,500 transmission in a $300 vehicle” was basically a losing game, not to mention it was also a matter of safety if the van broke down during transport of the prisoners.

The commissioners wondered if the sheriff’s office could just pay for the funds from the drug fund or at least split the cost on the new van, but Caldwell objected.

“The drug fund is for the sheriff’s office side, and this is for the jail,” he said.

Williamson said the county had cut $48,000 from the pharmacy budget for the jail, down from $100,000 — and the only reason the pharmacy budget had gotten so high was a miscount of indigents for the jail.

“We could fund it out of the pharmacy very easily,” he said.

The commissioners agreed by consensus to include the extra money for the van for the county jail.

At the end of the meeting, they also voted to approve the proposed budget. The county will hold a public hearing over the budget and proposed tax rate in August, Williamson said and then formally approve the budget.

Kim Cox is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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