Probation program funds are returned
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 18, 2013 | 861 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County Misdemeanor Probation was granted a budget appeal to add $10,000 to its budget that had been cut from its original request.

The funding will be used for the salary of new probation officers starting work in January, and additional compensation for other officers.

The Bradley County Commission approved the additional funding during a voting session Monday. Funding was taken from additional revenue brought in by the department in the 2012-13 fiscal year ending July 30.

The Commission had planned to approve setting aside $25,000 for a proposed workhouse alternative sentencing program. Instead the Commission approved $15,000 toward the workhouse and $10,000 to be given back to the department.

The motion passed 9-3. Commissioners Bill Ledford and Mark Hall were absent. Commissioners Ed Elkins, Mel Griffith and Louie Alford voted against the motion.

Revenue from the department exceeded department projections by more than $60,000.

“When this commission first set up my program I was required to be self-sufficient. I know I’m the only department in the county that is required to be self-sufficient,” misdemeanor probation director Rich Kienlen said. “We have not cost the taxpayers any money at all for 10 straight years.”

During that time the caseload has continued to increase.

“Just in the last three months, we have taken on 538 new cases,” Kienlen said.

The director said he wanted to give some additional raises over what had been proposed by Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, because he has employees who have worked in the department for seven years and make less than $30,000 a year. All probation officers are required to have a bachelor’s degree.

“At the end of the day I feel like I would be remiss if I did not ask for my officers,” Kienlen said.

The additional probation officer will bring in more revenue.

“It has been proven in the past when he has brought a new officer on, that officer has paid for itself,” 5th District Jeff Yarber said.

First District Commissioner Ed Elkins said there was a question about the revenue projections for next year. The projected revenue for next year was listed as being lower than the revenue from this fiscal year.

“I never try to project a high amount,” Kienlen said.

Kienlen said his department was designed to be self-sufficient, not to bring in additional funding for the county. The department consistently brings in more revenue than it projects. This money is typically put in the county’s general fund.

Davis said he prefers to do countywide raises because not all departments have revenue and therefore would not have this kind of opportunity.

Also during the meeting, 3rd District Commissioner Jeff Morelock pulled “authorizing funding for new construction at Lake Forest Middle School” from the agenda.

Fourth District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said she had been presented with information about an “Alternative Funding Program” that could be used to fund the project.

Morelock said he would like to revenue the information, and hopefully have a presentation from the program before moving forward.