Sunday, August 24 2014 12:56 AM EDT2014-08-24 04:56:42 GMT
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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As each day goes by the Tennessee Meth Task Force is closer to running out of federal funds.
Members of the task force say there has been a 40 percent increase in meth lab busts, which means more money has been spent for clean up.
By the end of the year the task force may not have enough money to operate.
Authorities announced in a news conference last week they busted a meth lab ring operating in Anderson and Knox counties. Forty-two people were indicted.
Tennessee is among states with the highest number of meth lab seizures in the nation.
Knox County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Martha Dooley says deputies busted three meth labs this year.
"We are finding meth labs in storage units, apartments, high-end homes," said Dooley.
Small 16-ounce bottles can be used in a meth lab.
If federal funding runs out, just cleaning up a small lab of that size could cost the sheriff's office several thousand dollars.
"When we bust a lab it could cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000, all the way up to $120,000," Dooley said.
Federal funds currently pay for a majority of the clean up.
Tom Farmer, the director of Tennessee's Meth and Pharmaceutical Task Force, says all federal funding will be gone by December. As of now, lawmakers have not agreed to renew funding for the task force.
"The state and local agencies are doing more than their part right now. We really need our federal partners to stand there with us," said Farmer.
If $3 million isn't granted by the federal government, local law enforcement agencies will likely have to pay for the entire cost of meth lab clean up.
Dooley says if that happens meth lab clean up operations would be a large portion of the Knox County Sheriff's Department budget. That means other important programs would have to be cut.
"It would have to come from another area, another program from patrol or our special services division, our educational division, to put it toward the clean-up effort," said Dooley.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's office released a statement about the end of the meth task force funding, saying, "Since this is such an effective federal program. Sen. Alexander will continue to support the task force by backing its efforts to secure federal funding through the Department of Justice's competitive grants process."