Panel votes against sheriff’s budget change
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Oct 24, 2013 | 709 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Bradley County Finance Committee voted Wednesday against approving a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office budget amendment to pay an intelligence analyst’s position out of the drug fund.

The request was for $33,188 to cover salaries and benefits.

Chairman Ed Elkins expressed concern that approving the amendment would reduce an already low amount of money in the drug fund.

During the most recent budget process, the Commission approved moving investigators’ salaries out of the drug fund into the general fund because the salaries were depleting the fund.

“We had originally planned to wait until this coming year and ask for this position in our regular budget, but we had an opportunity to get the training now,” said BCSO Administration Bureau Maj. Jim Hodgson.

“The Federal Law Enforcement training center gave us an opportunity to send a person on the two-week training on this for free. It’s about a $3,000 school. We believe we could sustain it out of the drug fund. It’s just this one position, and the benefits.”

Hodgson said the position could be paid through an officer position if the drug fund could not sustain the salary in the future.

Elkins asked if the position would work only on drug-fund-related issues.

“It’s not totally drug-related,” Hodgson said.

He explained many burglaries in Bradley County are connected to drugs in some way.

“Drugs are closely related to our total crime problem,” Hodgson said. “A lot of the street-level intelligence that comes into us is initially drug intelligence.”

The position would take information coming to the Sheriff’s Office about suspicious activity, and work to compare it to other information to determine if there is a connection. Making these connections can lead to finding those responsible for crimes.

He said the position being requested is less than the positions that had been moved to the sheriff’s general budget.

Committee member Jeff Morelock made a motion to approve the amendment. His motion died for lack of a second.

Committee member J. Adam Lowe said he would like the committee to reconsider at the next meeting. He said this would give members more time to review the information provided by the Sheriff’s Office.

Elkins said he would like to review the drug fund budget before discussing the issue again.

If the position is created, it will automatically be a part of the budget next year.

A $9,300 budget amendment for a traffic impact study and analysis of the Westland Drive site for the Cleveland Bradley State Veterans home was approved. The committee also received an update on the progress of the project.

The committee voted to set priorities for the Healthy Community Initiative Committee. The veterans home and clean water access grants were approved as priorities.

Committee member Mel Griffith suggested these be the only priorities listed.

Commission chairman Louie Alford said he wanted to keep the list short.

Lowe said he did not want the Commission to show continual preference to one nonprofit.

The committee approved an amendment that had been delayed at the last meeting to accept an arson payment to Bradley County Fire-Rescue. Members had questions at the previous meeting as to whether the funds were being listed as the correct type of revenue. The payment will be listed as “damages recovered from individuals.”

Donations to BCFR and Emergency Management Agency were also approved at the meeting.

Grants for law enforcement, Bradley County Schools and the Election Commission were also approved.