Departments asked to prioritize requests
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
May 08, 2013 | 628 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eight Bradley County departments were asked to prioritize and explain their greatest need during budget hearings with the Bradley County Finance Committee Tuesday.

Departments included Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Medical Service, Bradley County 911 Center, Assessor of Property, Parks and Recreation, Misdemeanor Probation, Circuit Court Clerk and the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office budget proposal includes five new positions. These include two deputies and three school resource officers. Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis asked Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth if he had to choose between the deputies or the SROs, which was a greater priority. Ruth said the SROs held a higher priority.

The positions would put a second officer at each of the high schools and one at Goal Academy.

“You really need a male and female officer at each of the high schools,” Ruth said.

Many of the increases in the Sheriff’s Office budget were shown as being covered by incoming revenue, Davis said. Davis pointed out to the finance committee that some of the revenue from the Justice Center was being used to cover non-jail budget items in the sheriff’s budget proposal.

In the Circuit Court Clerk budget, data processing was the area of increase. Circuit Court Clerk Gayla Miller said reserves had allowed her to maintain the same budget without requesting additional funding for the past five years.

“We carried ourself for five years, but, eventually, every good thing runs out,” Miller said.

The increase is to cover replacing computers. Miller said the department is replacing them a section at a time.

Finance committee chair Ed Elkins asked if the department could increase its processing fee. Miller said this amount is determined by the state.

The greatest priority for Misdemeanor Probation is an additional probation officer, according to department director Rich Kienlen.

Kienlen said with the department’s increased case load the additional position would pay for itself. Misdemeanor probation routinely brings in more in fees than projected.

A new law which revokes a person’s license if fees are not paid within a year is helping both the court clerk and misdemeanor probation collect those fees.

Parks and Recreation requested increases would put the department back where it was before a 4 percent cut a few years ago, according to Davis. Director Paul Wyrick said the costs add up quickly and revenues were down because of canceled activities due to weather. He said canceled events affect revenue from concession stands.

“We try to cut everywhere we can. I have some really good guys who work for me. I really do. They are very frugal,” Wyrick said.

Wyrick said the greatest equipment need in his department is for a mower.

For the Emergency Medical Service, the greatest need was a new piece of equipment for an existing vehicle. Davis said this need would be addressed in the county’s capital projects budget.

Elkins said moving the project to the capital projects fund does not change the fact that the expense is still there and needs revenue to cover it.

“That’s not a criticism, it’s just a statement of fact,” Elkins said.

EMS director Danny Lawson said service and collections have increased for his department. The department is estimated to bring in more than $4 million this year.

This leaves the greatest need as a truck for a supervisor. Lawson said having trucks for the supervisors allows the department to have more personnel at a scene without having two ambulances report to every scene.

Lawson said funding for an automatic compression device was also included in the budget.

EMA director Troy Spence explained to the committee that revenue from a radio tower it operates could be used to pay fees for radios it uses on a Chattanooga tower. In the past, a Homeland Security grant paid for the tower use costs. Spence said it costs $109 per radio to use the tower.

Bradley County 911 is requesting $144,000 from both the county and city governments to keep the center from being declared distressed and being taken over by the state.

Assessor of property Stanley Thompson said a new server and wide format scanner are needed for his department. A vehicle was another need of the department.