County finance tackles SRO, funding issues
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 21, 2013 | 839 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A school resource officer will be placed at Goal Academy by funding the position through overtime pay.

The Bradley County Finance Committee approved having the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office pay for the position through overtime or existing funding. The committee asked the department to request needed funding for the position in its next budget.

“Obviously, we would like to have the funding to have someone immediately up there,” said Capt. W.G. Campbell of the Bradley County Sherriff’s Office.

Campbell said even if funding was approved it would take 15 weeks to train a new officer, while using overtime provides someone right away.

“That would put someone up there in the next several days,” Campbell said.

The facility being discussed is the alternative school for Bradley County Schools and averages 50 to 70 students.

Committee member Mel Griffith questioned providing an officer for the relatively small number of people. The BCSO has about 107 officers.

“That’s roughly one officer per 1,000 people,” Griffith said. “I have a problem putting one for 75 people.”

Committee chairman Ed Elkins said he agreed with Griffith.

“One officer for 70 students or 60 students is disproportionate to what we have in the rest of the system,” Elkins said.

Committee member J. Adam Lowe pointed out other members of the population are in a context where they can better protect themselves.

Griffith voted against the motion.

Options for completing the proposed new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School and funding a requested technology upgrade for Bradley County Schools were also considered.

Lowe said reallocating current revenue, using new future revenue or increasing property taxes could be used to borrow the money needed for the project. He said all the options need to be discussed and considered.

“Lake Forest has had a lot of discussion. They’re still at the point where they don’t have the money in the county to rebuild Lake Forest, but there still are pending maintenance needs and costs associated with that current building,” Lowe said.

To complete maintenance on the pod-style classroom buildings would cost about $6 million and would not increase energy efficiency. The cost to build a new academic building, demolish the buildings being replaced, replace the entire campus’ heating system and do other needed repairs to buildings being kept has been estimated at $14 million. Lowe said this is the updated estimate over the original number submitted two years ago.

Bradley County School board member Troy Weathers said the buildings being kept need roof work. He said the estimate for the project had always included demolishing the old buildings and replacing roofs on the cafeteria, gymnasium and office which are being kept. Additional information on what money could be saved through increased energy will be submitted at a later date.

Additional annual funding being requested would be used to upgrade computers and equipment. Weathers said BCS will likely receive about $300,00 from Gov. Bill Haslam’s technology budget. Weathers said this would be used to update Internet access and needed infrastructure.

Lowe requested the issue be placed on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled finance committee meeting.

Also during the meeting:

- Renegotiation of the animal control contact with the city of Cleveland was also discussed. Elkins said Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and City Manager Janice Casteel should work on the contract. Davis said he had already scheduled a meeting with Casteel. Davis will bring a recommendation back to the finance committee.

“There’s not really any major problems with the contract. It’s really just a question of do you want to continue a contract? Do you want to change the level of service?” Davis said.

There are also other elements of the contract that can be changed. Davis said now is a good time to look at these options.

- Immediate needs for the Veterans Home were also discussed. A public meeting is an immediate need, according to Larry McDaris, director of the Bradley County Office of Veterans Affairs. McDaris said about $58,000 had been raised. He said he would like for this money to go toward the direct build, not site testing or design work. He said his goal had not been for the county to pay out part of its committed funding.

“I do not recommend you go into the general fund,” McDaris said.

McDaris said the donations will be used to cover these immediate needs

- The committee also approved budget amendments to accept money into the BCSO and Bradley County Schools budgets.

- The budget calendar for the 2013-14 budget cycle was also approved.