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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Sheriff Jim Hammond answers a question about student resource officers in schools during a Town Hall meeting held Monday, April 16, 2018 at East Hamilton Middle High School in Ooltewah, Tenn.

The Hamilton County Commission denied Sheriff Jim Hammond a raise Wednesday by not taking up the matter.

After the sheriff requested a $20,000 raise last week, commissioners gave the idea a mixed review. When asked to vote Wednesday, not one of the nine commissioners moved to approve or deny the resolution, which failed due to the lack of a motion.

"I am disappointed as I thought I had more support than that... ," Hammond wrote in an email when asked about the outcome.

Last week — fresh off of a stay in the hospital with COVID-19 — Hammond said he deserved the raise from about $143,000 to just over $163,000, plus a resulting bump in benefits, because he was at the bottom of the state's required salary range for a sheriff of a county the size of Hamilton. He also cited his new responsibilities as the county assumes staffing of the Silverdale Detention Center, which has been operated by a private contractor.

(READ MORE: Private jail company CoreCivic is pulling out of contract with Hamilton County)

"I'm kind of caught between a rock and a hard place," Hammond said last week of the transition. "I want to say to the commissioners that I'm very capable of doing this and bringing us to where we need to be.

"This was not brought frivolously. It is something that has already been done by the other major counties, and I really feel that I need the support of my commissioners on this."

Commissioner Warren Mackey defended Hammond's cause last week but did not pursue the matter this week.

"It was justified since we saw other sheriffs in other counties making higher rates and because of the transition," Mackey said after the meeting. "That was not a fight I wanted to fight, and what's more, I had constituents, not a whole mass of them but a few, reach out and say they didn't support the raise."

The proposed increase of around 14% would have been Hammond's second raise this year, including a 3.5% pay bump allotted in the FY2021 budget, and would cost around $25,100 after benefits with the new adjusted base salary of $163,930.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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