HAZARD – The Perry County Sheriff’s Office is expected to be back to full force this week as a new tax collection season begins.
Sheriff Les Burgett announced significant reductions in personnel this past July, leaving only four deputies on the road. Burgett said a shortfall in revenue from local tax collection severely cut the amount of funds his office could spend.
But as property tax bills are set to go out again in October, along with a recent delinquent tax sale, the sheriff’s office is expecting an infusion of funds that will allow Burgett to bring back to a full complement of 13 deputies this week, noted Chief Deputy Tony Eversole.
“We’re bringing everybody back due to a projected income of funds,” Eversole said.
The sheriff’s office is tasked with the collection of local property taxes, and receives a commission from taxing entities like the city and county schools. A move by the Perry County Board of Education in August to increase the sheriff’s collection fee from 3.25 to 4 percent will give Burgett more funds with which to work, Eversole added.
Sheriff Burgett informed the Kentucky State Police this week that the sheriff’s office will also resume its responsibility as the county’s primary police responder from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. That was a responsibility the sheriff said he was forced to relinquish to the state police in July after cutting staff.
But with an economy declining and unemployment increasing, Eversole the outlook for the long term remains uncertain. If tax collections are down next year as they were this past 12 months, he noted it could result in similar cutbacks in the future.
For now, however, Eversole said the sheriff’s office will essentially be able to operate as it did before the July cutbacks. He did note, however, that some security personnel at the justice center, which the sheriff oversees, will be brought back on a part time basis rather than full time.
“There will still be a couple of positions that won’t be brought back full time,” Eversole said. “As of right now the main concentration is getting the road deputies back.”