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Counsel chosen for pay issue
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County commissioners last week voted to retain an attorney after learning Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle plans to fight for salary increases for his employees.

The commission unanimously approved the appointment of Ken Jarrard to serve as its counsel in proceedings with the sheriff involving the 2015 budget and budget process.

"While we may not need to use anybody, we've got to be prepared just in case," said Commission Chairman Mike Berg.

Last month, Carlisle announced he had hired Steven Liebel to represent the sheriff's office and accompany him through the budget negotiations with the county. Those talks are scheduled for later this month.

During an interview last month, Carlisle said he would no longer stand by and watch longtime employees leave for higher-paying jobs with better benefits.

He openly spoke about his intent to "stand up for his employees," who have not received a raise in more than six years, he said, adding that the issue has been detrimental to his department.

"My office is breaking down because they, our commission leaders, have not stepped up to the plate and taken care of what needs to be taken care of," he said.

According to Berg, the 2015 budget process officially began Monday when he met with the county's elected officers and department heads in anticipation of the upcoming budget talks.

Carlisle, who is out of town this week, was not present.

His budget manager Sandra Evans was there in his place, along with the sheriff's counsel, Evans said.

Liebel said the sheriff wants to work with the county and its administrators to find a fair resolution that "takes care of the needs of the people, takes care of the needs of its law enforcement personnel and does it in such a way that we all work toward consensus in accomplishing this."

"We look forward to presenting our budget and to working with the county in passing a fair budget," he said.

As of Tuesday, Berg said the commission had not received formal notification of the sheriff's intent.

He also said the county is awaiting the results of a salary model intended to show an analysis of employee pay in relation to those of surrounding counties.

The information is expected to be used for future budgetary purposes, according to Berg.