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Budget problems could mean deputy layoffs in Johnson County

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Several times each year Johnson County deputies hit the streets to arrest dozens of people on drug charges, but soon those roundups may come to an end.

Budget crunches could cause the sheriff's office to layoff half of its force.

For the second time this year Johnson County deputies set out with more than one dozen warrants for drug trafficking charges.

"It gets these people off the streets," said Sheriff Dwayne Price.

Thursday they arrested 14 on charges related to prescription pills.

But recently budget problems have hit the area causing a domino effect.

Budget crunches are forcing the Paintsville School District to stop paying the sheriff's office $80,000 to collect taxes, and they will pay the city half as much.

"They have a right to do that. I realize that. They took their taxes away from us and gave it to the city of paintsville," said Price.

The sheriff says losing that $80,000 may mean they have to pull four of their deputies off the streets, making things like drug roundups nearly impossible and slowing down response times.

"If we lose four deputies, that's half the force that we have out on the street," said Price.

Johnson County resident Tommy Hitchcock worries what that will mean for the area.

"It's definitely going to cut into their ability to enforce the law," he said.

As a former deputy he knows what manpower it takes fight drug crimes.

"If you diminish that it's going to cause a definite increase in trafficking and the movement of the drug problem that we have here," said Hitchcock.

For now the sheriff says they can only wait and hope.

"You can't just tell somebody to quit selling drugs. They're going to continue doing it until they get picked up or they get some help, and if we don't pick them up who's going to do it?" said Price.

The sheriff says they will not feel this budget loss until after October.

They plan to ask the county judge executive for help in the meantime.

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