Sullivan County beginning work on 2020-2021 budget

J. H. Osborne • Mar 10, 2020 at 9:21 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — For the upcoming budget year, which starts July 1, Sullivan County Sheriff Cassidy is asking for less money to run his department and the county’s jail facilities than was appropriated this year. Cassidy presented his requests for funding to the Sullivan County Commission’s Administrative Committee on Monday during that group’s first budget hearing. They will meet again this evening, and again later this month as the county’s annual budget process gets into full swing.

Appropriations to the sheriff’s office and county jails this year totaled more than $25.03 million, including increases totaling over $800,000 that were approved by the Sullivan County Commission after the budget year began last July 1. Much of that new money went to help Cassidy launch a new pre-trial release program, one of his efforts to reduce overcrowding in the current jail. The county faces a $3 million federal lawsuit filed by a former inmate because of jail conditions blamed on the overcrowding.

Cassidy isn’t asking for any increases for any line item in his budgets for the sheriff’s office and jail operations. Several grant-funded programs reflect decreases from the current year, and the sheriff’s office’s capital outlay account reflects a decrease of $188,000 (the cost of five vehicles added to this year’s budget as part of the pre-trial release program). In all, Cassidy’s requests total $24.81 million. While it isn’t technically an increase over this year’s amended appropriations total, it is about $1.9 million more than the $22.9 million total that was spent for sheriff’s office and jail operations last year (the budget cycle that ended June 30, 2019).