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Pistol permit price to double

Starting Wednesday, Covington County’s pistol permit fee will increase to $20 per year.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Monday the $10 increase is the first in nearly 28 years and will help offset expenses for issuing the permits.

“It was something we had to do — really it was past time,” Meeks said of the increase. “There is a lot of work that goes into issuing a pistol permit. We have to do background checks for new permits; run criminal histories; there is a special paper they have to be printed on. Those things take time and material to do.”

Meeks initially requested the change last November when he sought local backing to support legislation for the change. After its approval earlier this year by the legislature, the measure is now law. Meeks said the $10 increase is comparable to other counties similar in size to Covington.

The permits, which allow holders to carry a concealed firearm either on their person or in their vehicle, are issued annually. At present, there are approximately 350 permits issued each month, Meeks said.

With the new increase, the law enforcement fund will see an additional estimated $42,000 in revenue. In addition to offsetting administrative costs associated with issuing the permits, monies generated from the increase will also be used for employee training and equipment purchases.

“We’ve bought vehicles, firearms, ammunition and provided training with money from this fund,” Meeks said. “It is needed money.”

Wording in the measure does not allow the county commission to reduce the sheriff’s department’s operating budget by any additional revenue collected as a result of the increase. However, Meeks has said previously the funds are not enough to supplement salaries for deputies and county jail employees.

Due to the current economic situation of the county, there is currently both a hiring freeze and a freeze on all pay raises.