Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, left, said the sheriff can forget about getting new cars.
And if the county commission decides on Monday to pay for them anyway, the mayor says he’ll veto the move.
Of course, if the commission wants to pay for them, then it will probably have enough votes – six – to simply override the mayor.
Still, Burchett told me this afternoon that “I don’t think it’s good practice in (the middle of a budget cycle) to make a proposal that, in effect, is a 3 cent tax increase, or equivalent to one, when we’re trying to be fiscally sound.”
This morning, Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, below right, said he wants to take roughly $3.2 million from the county’s reserves to buy 100 new cars for his deputies. The county commission will decide during its regular meeting, which starts at 1:45 p.m. Monday and is held at the Deathstar.
The mayor, though, says the proposal is “ill-advised” and “not the right time to do something like that.”
“If it’s such a great idea, then why wasn’t it done at the beginning of the budget process,” the mayor asked in what I assume was a rhetorical question, since I’m not the one making the proposal.
(If I had to guess, I'd say – and this is based on what “JJ” said earlier – that he's asking because he can get a pretty good deal right now. But if he doesn’t act fast someone else will move in on the new Crown Vic’s.)
“The reserves are there for a crisis, and I don’t see a crisis,” the mayor said. “With all the cuts we’re making right now, to put $3 million back in the debt column? I think this is the wrong move, and I think the public would agree.”
He may be right. Until someone in the public needs help and one of those older cars breaks down.
Then again, it’s really not surprising that the mayor doesn’t want to pay for new cars. Heck, he put his own staff-appointed mayor-mobile on the auction block when he took office. Then he sold Chief of Staff Dean Rice’s appointed Ford Explorer out from under him.
(Of course, once Rice got paid, he promptly bought himself a new one. Used. Or previously-owned one. Whatever.)
Update: County Communications Manager Mike Grider called just now if the commission approves the funding, the mayor might not veto it. The mayor, he said, isn't sure right now.