BCSO budget amendments are scrutinized by finance group

By AUTUMN HUGHES

Posted 3/6/18

A handful of budget amendment requests from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office garnered discussion during the Bradley County Commission’s Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon. 

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BCSO budget amendments are scrutinized by finance group

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A handful of budget amendment requests from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office garnered discussion during the Bradley County Commission’s Finance Committee meeting Monday afternoon. 

The first two — the sale of a badge to Deputy Brandon Warren for $80 and $101.47 from Ocoee Middle School for services rendered for deputies working a special detail — were approved quickly. However, additional budget amendment requests totaling more than $35,000, drew discussion that grew tense at times.

The first contested request was for $23,082.88 to be moved from the jail’s fund for deputy pay to the prisoners clothing line item. The description of the amendment is for monies to help buy mattresses, blankets and stackable beds in order “to get over crowded inmates off the floor.”

Finance Committee member Dan Rawls asked why the money for the equipment was not available in the BCSO’s budget. BCSO Finance Director Cassandra Burgess said the jail has never had stackable beds and was trying to purchase them to help with overcrowding. She added that inmates destroy mattresses and blankets on a regular basis and they must be replaced.

“We have purchased this within our budget,” Burgess said, adding the budget amendment is needed to move available funding from one line item to another.

Finance Committee member Thomas Crye asked where inmates being held for the Tennessee Department of Corrections get their clothing. Burgess said it comes from Bradley County.

Crye added that inmates without mattresses or beds and held in holding cells “are innocent” and shouldn’t go without a place to sleep, or toiletries.

“Everybody deserves a mattress and toiletries,” Finance Committee member Charlotte Peak said.

Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford asked why funding is being taken from the salary line item used to pay deputies. Burgess said due to turnover of personnel there is funding available in that line item. Burgess said when 50 percent of the current fiscal year was reached in January, expenditures were closer to 42 percent, so that is why that money was available and used to fund the stackable beds and other items.

The vote to approve the budget amendment request passed 3-2, with Finance Committee Chairman Milan Blake, Peak and Finance Committee member Mike Hughes voting in favor; Crye and Rawls voted against the measure.


The second contested request was for $1,000 to be moved from the jail’s fund for deputy pay to the building’s maintenance and repair services line item. The description of the amendment was for monies to help put stainless steel on the walls in the washroom of the kitchen.

Burgess said the condition of the painted washroom walls was noted in the recent jail inspection.

Rawls recommended “running that (maintenance) line item down” and then coming back with funding requests.

Rawls also said the new jail has never failed inspection before the current administration, and that it has failed twice in a year.

However, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the Tennessee Corrections Institute inspects the jail and normally gives a failing grade with the understanding the facility will be re-inspected after TCI’s “wish list” of issues is addressed. Hughes said the jail then usually passes its second inspection.

Peak said she is glad to look at the building on behalf of the Building & Land Committee, of which she is chair.

Blake put the $1,000 budget amendment request on hold until the next Finance Committee meeting, to give Peak time to visit the jail.

The third contested request was for $12,493.60 to be moved from the jail’s fund for deputy pay to the law enforcement equipment line item. The description of the amendment was for monies to help with supplies needed for officers in the jail.

Burgess referred back to the purchase of stackable beds, noting this budget amendment is to replace money used from the law enforcement equipment line item to pay for the beds. She said officer supplies like handcuffs, shackles and Tasers, among other equipment, is paid for from the line item.

Peak asked if this type of equipment is ordered on a regular basis. Burgess said the BCSO needs newer models of Tasers because the current ones can’t be repaired, and cartridges and batteries cannot be found.

Rawls questioned why approximately $35,500 for the three requests is from the deputies’ pay line item. Blake said his concern is that if  money is taken from the pay line item and the BCSO requests more for that line item, it’s not going to happen. He added that Burgess knows how many pay periods are left and that the budget has to last until the end of June.

Peak said she knows it looks bad for the requested budget amendments to come out of the deputies’ salary line item, but available funding is “just moving from here to there.”
Hughes asked Burgess if she is working within the BCSO’s budget in making these amendment requests. Burgess said she is.

The vote to approve the budget amendment request passed 3-2, with Blake, Peak and Hughes voting in favor, and Crye and Rawls voting against the measure.
After the vote, Davis said he wanted to be clear: When making budget amendments, funding is being moved from the portion of the budget year already past, not the future, or remaining, budget year. He said as long as Burgess’ calculations are correct, the BCSO will not go over budget.

Davis also reiterated his earlier comments that the jail had failed inspection previously, presenting three years of reports as proof; he also showed that after recommended changes were made the jail passed its follow-up inspections.


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