Sheriff Billy McGee technically retired, chief deputy position won't be filled

Sheriff Billy McGee technically retired, chief deputy position won't be filled
Sheriff Billy McGee/Photo credit: WDAM

FORREST COUNTY (WDAM) - Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee officially retired as sheriff on Dec. 31, 2015, with a $100,000 salary.

McGee is currently drawing his retirement, and making $23,441.01 a year from the county, still serving as a part-time sheriff, which is roughly 1/4th of his pay.

His retirement is something that county officials were unaware of until the budget building process. And with that, the county is saving roughly $76,000, and they do not have to pay McGee for his salary.

The Forrest County Sheriff's Department makes up roughly 42 percent of the county's $66 million budget, and with multiple legal settlements, the county supervisors have asked all departments to help with budget expenditures.

Since his official retirement, McGee has terminated his chief deputy, Charles Bolton, who was convicted on nine felony counts of filing false tax returns and tax evasion on Sept. 15 in federal court.

McGee will not replace former Chief Deputy Bolton, but his roughly $90,000 salary has been divided among eight people.

Bolton, who was the chief deputy and jail administrator, was terminated from the department on Sept. 19. At that time, he was making $86,091.20.

Since then, and despite requests by county supervisors to tighten spending, $83,000 of that has gone to raises for employees at the sheriff's department.

Clifford Rudder, who is now the department's new jail administrator, has been moved from $41,080.00 to $61,080.00, which is a 48.6 percent increase.

Other employees who received raises are as follows:

  • Mike Riels- $52,000.00 to $62,000.00, a 19.23 percent increase.
  • David Jerrell- $50,003.20 to $62,003.20, a 23.99 percent increase.
  • Nick Calico- $48,006.40 to $58,006.40, a 20.8 percent increase.
  • Matt Adam- $48,006.40 to $58,006.40, a 20.8 percent increase.
  • Phillip Hendricks- $37,918.40 to $43,918.40, a 15.8 percent increase.
  • Rafael Bailey- $38,313.60 to $44,313.60, a 15.6 percent increase.

Wendy Carmichael, who is the sheriff's secretary, has been moved from $49,358.40 to $58,358.40, an 18.23 percent increase.

The average pay for a deputy at the sheriff's department is roughly $35,000-$38,000 a year, according to county records.

"Any elected official has a personnel budget, as long as the expenditures are within that budget, the board doesn't have authority to approve or not approve any changes they propose," Forrest County Supervisors Board Attorney David Miller said.

According to supervisors, the sheriff is still operating within his budget.

Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee did not respond to phone calls for comment.