Cannon County Sheriff Billy Nichols says that any claims or assertions his department is hiding money in its budget are totally false.
Sheriff Nichols further states that even though his budget is one of the county’s largest, that it is not that difficult to understand and he has always answered any question related to the budget to anyone who has a problem.
Nichols added that he has run the sheriff’s department each budget year since he was elected on the funds allotted by the County Commission. The medical line item is the only one that cannot be predicted and routinely runs over budget for any administration.
The sheriff's jobs is one of many which voters will fill during the County General Election on August 5. Nichols is running for re-election against four challengers.
"There has never been any money hidden in our budget," Nichols said. "Not only is it something our department would not do, but our budget is constantly being reviewed by the county executive's office, the county commission and state auditors.
"We have accounted for every penny in our budgets," Nichols said.
Nichols said that some people may be confused because money in the budget which was listed to pay for a Chief Deputy and Sergeant(s) was instead used to pay for additional patrolling deputies.
"Whether someone has the title of chief deputy, sergeant, investigator or lieutenant, they are still a deputy," Nichols said. "We have only used money designated for deputies to pay deputies. We have not taken money from any other budget item to pay deputies, and we have not used money designated to pay deputies for any other purpose."
The sheriff's department currently has 13 deputies, which includes two investigators and one lieutenant, Nichols said.
Charlie Wilder serves as chief investigator and captain of deputies, and is second in command of the department. Brad Hall is the lieutenant and is third in the chain of command, followed by Vance Walker who is both an investigator and sergeant.
The remaining 10 deputies cover the county seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The 10 includes the two Power Shift deputies.
The position of Power Shift Deputy was created earlier this year for the purpose of putting more deputies on the road at night, Nichols said.
Most deputies work 12 hour shifts beginning at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. The Power Shift Deputy comes on duty at 3 p.m. and works until 3 a.m. each day.
The money from the Chief Deputy line item has been used pay for these two Power Shift Deputy positions, Nichols said.
"It used to be that there were times we only had one deputy at night to patrol or respond to calls covering the entire county," Nichols said. "I did not need a chief deputy or sergeants and much as I needed to have deputies out protecting and serving the people of Cannon County. So we took the money from those line items to hire two full time deputies."
Nichols said there is no requirement or mandate for a sheriff department to have either a chief deputy position or a sergeants position.
Nichols also said the department is expected to either break even or go slightly over its budget for the current fiscal year, attributing any overage to higher than project medical costs for prisoners.