Madison County Sheriff pushes for 1/2 cent sales tax increase to fix major problems

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Sighting major funding gaps, and unequal pay among county deputies and other metro law enforcement officers, Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning is asking for a half-cent sales tax increase in the county.

Madison Sheriff officials met with our news partners at AL.com Tuesday to discus the problems the department currently faces due to budget shortfalls.

Currently, Sheriff's Office officials say the department is down eight deputies in the field and another 24 in the jail.

The proposed tax increase, which would raise county sales tax from 5.5 percent to 6 percent, would bring in up to $750,000 in the first year, according to the department's estimation. It would only affect unincorporated Madison County; Huntsville and Madison sales tax would not be affected.

Officials say the money would be used to add 10 deputies per year until the national average is met and to increase the salary for new deputies to just over $35,000.

Right now, entry-level deputies earn $27,331 per year, or $13.50 per hour.

Dorning told AL.com Tuesday that, at some point, a lack of funding will force the department to go to the Madison County Commission proposing to cut staff so it can afford to pay experienced, well-qualified deputies what they are worth. But that could also mean cutting programs and changing the way the department operates.

Here is an information sheet on the proposed sales tax provided by the Madison County Sheriff's Office:

Madison County Rural Public Safety Bill

Read the entire article from our news partners at AL.com/The Huntsville Times.