Monday, May 2, 2011

Mayor proposes slush fund cuts

In early March I wrote this story.

Its starts off:

"Knox County commissioners plan to increase their office's discretionary fund, an account used to dole out money to the community.

In addition, the commission doesn't expect to cut auto allowances that the mayor has eliminated from other departments under his purview."

Well, apparently the commissioners at the time didn’t get the memo.

Or the budget. Heh. Something they just got a few minutes ago.

Those slush funds? Yeah. Gone. (And come on – don’t call them “discretionary” funds. Seriously.) Those auto allowances? Yeah. Kiss them goodbye, too.

Unless of course, commissioners want to put all that back in. Because they can.
County Mayor Tim Burchett just turned over his proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-12, which starts July 1. Before then, however, commissioners will have a chance to pick through it and make whatever changes they want. (They’re subject to veto, I suppose, but the board – with enough votes - could override it.)

Back in late February or early March – during a commission luncheon – officials talked about increasing their slush funds from $3,000 to as much as $10,000 each. (As I recall, the good doctor and Commissioner Richard Briggs was the only one who said “the heck with that, we don’t even need them.” Or something like that.) They also decided over lunch that they weren’t going to the reimbursement system, like the executive officers. They wanted to keep the $300 a month check.

So, the commission submitted its budget to Burchett. Officials asked for $587,800. He’s offering $512,300. And zero for the slush. And travel. (Last year by the way, the commission – which had 19 members, not the current 11 – adopted a $653,300 budget.)


Maybe they should have thought a little harder when they decided to give the Man with the Badge those squad cars.

You know. When they tapped the reserves – against the mayor’s wishes – to the tune of $2.2 million to buy Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones 65 patrol cars.

By the way, the sheriff asked the mayor for another 35 cars; the mayor gave him 24. Jones, though, knows it takes 6 votes for a majority. Sometimes I think the mayor believes it only takes five.

But I digress.

Because this could actually get kind of interesting.

Update: After talking to more than half the commissioners, it appears that - at least at this point - they will do without the slush funds. Same with travel, although many say it will cost the county more to reimburse them.

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