LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A department that employs 27 officers, now down to just 20.

“It's disheartening,” Chief Steve Uram said.

Bardstown Police Chief Uram says the department was already short two officers when he was named chief in November 2016. Since then, five more officers have left the department. And he says it all comes down to their salaries.

“Many of them have families. They're trying to raise families on wages that are below the regional standards we have,” Chief Uram said.

But some are not convinced. Councilman Bill Sheckles puts blame on the city's leadership.

“It all starts at the top. The mayor on down with the restructuring and all the things that go along with that. The chief just came into a dysfunctional situation,” Councilman Sheckles said.

According to Mayor John Royalty, Nelson County Sheriff's Deputies are paid $5 more an hour than Bardstown Police officers. That, coupled with new policies and procedures have led to many officers leaving the department. Citing the new chief's stricter policies.

“Are they upset that they don't get to go down to the local watering hole? No, we don't do that here. It don't happen,” Mayor John Royalty said.

Chief Uram says he hopes to see a 12.5 percent pay increase for his officers immediately. And over the next several budget years continue to increase their salaries to reach a 25 percent increase. Councilman Sheckles says a pay increase is not off the table completely for him

“It's a possibility. But there's a lot of things that need to go into that factor but it's definitely not going to be raised 25 percent,” he said.

“No decision has been made on whether or not the city will increase the police department's budget. They say they will continue to discuss that over the next several months.