Council denies Sheriff's request to hire captain

MARSHALL CO. — Marshall County council members Monday denied Sheriff Tom Chamberlin’s request to hire a captain for his department.
Chamberlin explained that his current chief deputy — hired in May 2011 — would be leaving the department effective September 14. He requested the council’s permission to hire a captain to replace the chief deputy, which would require a change to the salary ordinance.
“On an hourly rate, there is no increase from the chief deputy’s position to the captain’s position,” said Chamberlin to council members, adding that the captain’s position is a merit position and would affect that individual’s pension plan.
Council member Ward Byers expressed strong disapproval for the proposal, stating, “I am not in favor of changing the salary ordinance mid-year, this close to budget time. I don’t see the point in changing it — just leave it like it is until 2013.”
Not replacing the chief deputy would leave the Sheriff’s Department shorthanded for that position’s duties from September to the next calendar year, pointed out Chamberlin.
“That’s up to you to figure out, Sheriff,” responded Byers. “You asked for a deputy position and the majority of this council gave it to you.”
Byers added that he did not want the practice of changing an ordinance mid-year to become a precedent for other departments. He said that he is not against the hiring of a captain versus a chief deputy, but his main concern is changing an ordinance midway through the year.
After further discussion, council member Ralph Booker moved to allow Chamberlin to hire a captain, saying, “I understand the concern but I don’t think there is a precedent.”
Booker’s motion was seconded by Rex Gilliland. Matt Hassel, Ralph Booker, Rex Gilliland, and Don Morrison voted for the proposal while Judith Stone, Ward Byers, and John Benedict voted against the proposal. Since a 5-2 vote is needed in order to change a salary ordinance, the council ultimately denied Chamberlin’s request.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do out there,” responded Chamberlin in reaction to the council’s vote.
In other personnel matters, council members approved a full-time dispatcher/jailer for the Sheriff’s Department and a replacement deputy prosecutor for the Prosecutor’s Office.