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Commission to Vote on Budget Appeals

by Ashley Murphy

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bradley County Commission went into a lengthy discussion about budget appeals for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office and the Election Commission. The Sheriff's Department wanted an alternative for the 1.6% pay increase going to the county employees. Sheriff Jim Ruth wanted to incorporate that into a step-pay plan for his department.

However, several commissioners were concerned about the budget and that this plan would actually cost the county even more money. Commissioner Connie Wilson said that she would like to see this looked into a bit more and possibly implement the plan, but not until January 1, 2012. The county will vote on her suggestion next week.

The Election Commission presented an appeal that would dissolve the current part time position within the department and create a full time position. Based on election commission representatives, this would create stability within the department and be more of an incentive to keep on the good employees. While other commissioners had their doubts about the move, Commissioner Terry Caywood thought it could be a possible improvement, seeing as how their budget is down significantly from previous years. The issue will be voted on at next week's voting session.

Much of the concern over the budget seemed to be the ever declining general fund balance. Several commissioners expressed their concerns over the spending and what keeps being approved without proper information. Commissioner Ed Elkins expressed current concerns over millions that are to be put out this year, which is significantly higher than what the county is showing in the budget as to coming in. Others defended the commission's decisions saying that at least Bradley County, unlike most others in the state, is not raising taxes again this year and all employees will retain their jobs.

The topic of the Bradley County Fire and Rescue came about and a question was asked on the status of a possible decision on BCFR's future. Elkins reported that during Fire Board meetings, the latest recommendation was a strong encouragement to consider the proposed plan that has been in place for the past several years - for the department to go on their own and drop the contract with the City of Cleveland. A motion was put on the agenda for next week's meeting to see if a decision can finally be decided on for the future of fire protection.

The Bradley County Commission will meet again on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse.