Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims recently voiced his thoughts on proposed legislation that would put an end to pocketing jail food money.

Sims first said he was excited to have local legislators’ help and support through a handful of bills that would benefit the sheriff’s office.

The first proposed bill would stop all personal use of excess money and put it into a discretionary account. It would only be used for the sheriff’s office. Such proposed legislation is a constitutional amendment that must be approved by the voters in order to override the state law concerning the feeding of inmates.

Currently by law, sheriffs can take the excess food money and use it however they choose. But since being elected sheriff, Sims said he has chosen not to take any of the left over jail food money as personal income. He said he made that decision because it wasn’t what he “signed up for” as sheriff.

“The reason for this legislation is to fix this from here on out,” Sims said. “No more questions of what’s happening to the jail food money, what’s it being spent on … no more questions. We won’t have a problem anymore.”

The second proposed bill gives Sims a $30,000 raise, one that he felt the position needed for a long time.

Without additional income from the jail food money, Sims said he makes about $62,000. For more than 25 years, he said, the issue of raising the salary has never been addressed – all because of the food money.

Choosing to give the sheriff a $30,000 raise was a decision made based off of what sheriffs in surrounding counties make, Sims said.

Because elected officials’ salaries can’t be changed while in office, the raise won’t go into effect until the next term of the sheriff. But to help Sims now, legislators are working to pass a third bill to give him a $30,000 expense allowance until his term ends.

“What would happen is $2,500 would be placed in an expense account for me each month until my next term,” Sims said. “If the salary increase is passed, once the first term ends the expense account will end.”

Sims said he was grateful to work with local legislators and hopefully see things changed.

“I have 100 percent of support from all of our legislators,” Sims said. “I really appreciate them and the job they’ve done. It takes everyone working together to see good things be accomplished. If you don’t work together, nothing gets done.”

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