County Budget Committee Turns Down Several 2010-11 Requests

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Having gone through the process of hearing all of the budget requests from the different county departments and agencies, the Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission began its final review of the proposals Thursday night.

Based upon the review by the committee, it is unlikely every county department or agency will receive all of the money they are seeking, although the ultimate decision will be in the hands of the full county commission.

In addition, the requests presented include a three percent pay raise for county employees, and it has yet to be determined if there will be enough money available to make that possible.

Entering Thursday's meeting the proposed County General Budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 shows estimated revenues of $5,064,178 and projected expenses of $6,209,881.

The first proposed budget to get pared by the budget committee's knife Thursday was that of the Cannon County Ambulance Service. Director Ricky Cope is seeking $114,153 more for Medical Personnel to pay for an additional crew. The sentiment expressed by budget committee members Chairman Mark Barker, commissioners Greg Mitchell and Kevin George and citizen representative Bill Jennings was that it is not affordable at this point to increase staffing.

The sheriff's department is seeking a nearly $100,000 budget increase, the majority of it for increases in employee salaries, wages, overtime pay and benefits. The committee made some minor downward suggestions to those budget line items.

During the discussion of the proposed budget for the sheriff's office, Fifth District Commissioner Bob Stoetzel questioned why there were line items and salary figures listed for the positions of Chief Deputy and Sergeant(s) when there were currently no persons filling those positions and there are no plans to do so.

The committee decided to move the money the sheriff proposed setting aside for those positions to another line item in the sheriff's budget, that of Deputy(es).

(EDITOR'S NOTE: During the discussion of the sheriff's budget, this reporter and Stoetzel got into a heated verbal exchange after I blurted out for Stoetzel — who was sitting behind me — to "hush" when he interrupted me while I was attempting to ask Chairman Barker a question. We continued our heated dialogue following the meeting. I apologize to the members of the committee and those in attendance for my part in the activity.)

Other major budget increase requests the committee recommended trimming or eliminating Thursday included:

• That of Fire Prevention and Control, which is seeking an additional $252,000 for Motor Vehicles ($200,000) and Other Equipment (including pumper/SCBA Bottles).

• Funding a $40,000 salary for the Supervisor/Director of Cannon County Emergency Management.

Also considered or recommended by the committee Thursday:

• The Cannon County Senior Center requested a $15,000 contribution from the county, up from $4,000 this year, but the committee suggested $6,500.

• Cannon County SAVE, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, desires a $10,000 contribution from the county. The committee will forward the request to the full commission.

• The budget requests of the County Executive Office and the Election Commission Office were trimmed slightly.

• Left relatively unchanged were the requests from the Adams Memorial Library System, the Parks and Fair Boards (Community Center), Agricultural Extension Office and Veteran's Services.

The budget committee will meet again next Thursday at the courthouse to continue its final review process. A special meeting of the Cannon County Commission will be called in June to finalize the budget.
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Members Opinions:
May 28, 2010 at 9:20am
While it might have not been southerly proper to hush someone talking over you I think Kevin did the right thing. It is unfortunate that Bob Stoetzel could not have simply apologized and waited until the news reporter finished. I don’t recall Bob being on the budget committee, and I for one just get tired of his controlling nature. Bob has a retirement. Let us all enjoy it --- go build your cabin Bob
May 28, 2010 at 10:26am
Jim, Bob was Sheriff and he knows the inner-workings of the office. He has a right to ask why Sheriff Nichols is asking for taxpayers to fund salaries for positions that don't exist. Whether anything that was said was polite between Bob and Kevin is not my point. I know you take issue that you feel that the county is limiting you as a Constable. Why don't you work that out with Sheriff Nichols? He is chief law officer. You say that you are also retired, so why do you always keep an issue brewing? Why don't you also go build a cabin?
May 28, 2010 at 11:56am
Hey JrWtn -- First, the County isn’t limiting what I can do as constable. I can do whatever the law allows me to do. The biggest challenge is overcoming local misconceptions about the office. The sheriff isn’t the chief law enforcement officer; he is the principle law enforcement officer and has nothing to do with the constable’s office. He could help his own budget by working with constables but he has refused to do so. I do agree that Bob’s questions are valid about the sheriff’s budget. I would also like to know where the money went for non-existing positions. But being a former one term sheriff doesn’t make him the go-to-guy. He is no longer sheriff because he sued the people of Cannon County for more money after he broke a campaign promise to live within his budget as sheriff. It would be nice if he would let other people ask questions of the committee members. Particularly the press. Frankly, I’m not sure the audience should be giving the third degree to the administrators there for budget review. That is the job of the committee members. ---- I’m not retired, but I wish I was. --- I am building a cabin and you are invited to come on over and help and we can talk and build at the same time and I bet we would mostly agree!!
May 28, 2010 at 12:27pm
Jim, I will refrain from arguing with you about what you feel that your powers are as a Constable. I will agree that the Sheriff and his administration are reluctant to cooperate unless it is an idea of their own. Also, there seems to be a lack of communication at hand. However, Stoetzels past administration is irrelevant to the questions he has asked Sheriff Nichols. If Stoetzel had not asked these questions on behalf of the commission, who would? Is everyone just going to put a "rubber stamp" on everything without asking questions? It didn't seem that anyone else was willing to step up to the plate. It is clearly a problem that the Sheriff is asking positions to be funded that are non-existing. There should not be any question about how our money is being spent as taxpayers. I am still trying to understand Nichols reasoning for not having a Chief Deputy or a Sergeant. Don't all Sheriff's Departments have a chain of rank for order? The sad fact is that there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the Sheriff's Office that Sheriff Nichols owes the public to answer.
May 28, 2010 at 1:09pm
There is no argument about my powers as constable, the law is clear and the Tennessee Attorney General has agreed with my interpretation. Like I wrote below JrWtn -- We really don’t disagree. After the budget committee gets done with their work, all the commissioners will have their say at the County Commission meeting when they approve or disapprove the budget. They have final say as a group. The media is aware of the discrepancies in the sheriff’s line items vs who is really employed; I would assume that is why the reporters were asking questions.
May 28, 2010 at 8:50pm
Well I could honestly care less about Andy and Barney fighting over who is the best "constable" in the county. Jim you win dude! You get the Oscar for Best Constable and you win the election in a landslide (considering your'e the only one running), so let's move on to the real deal.

What does it say about our County Executive Mike Gannon that he has the audacity to say things like "I don't have to show anyone a copy of the budget, and if you don't believe me call CTAS".

What kind of leadership skills does that represent? I am sorely confused and disgusted with the arrogance Mike continues to show. I want transparency in our elected officials. I want leaders who have an open door policy. I want leaders who show respect to the people who put them in office.

I expect the $65,000.00 a year we are paying Mike out of our tax dollars to have more bang for the buck and a lot less attitude!

I guess he really doesn't care how he acts because he must look at the poll every day and think he has the election in the bag!
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