Blount County Commission OKs Friendsville patrol officer
Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Blount County Commission on Thursday approved an interlocal agreement between the City of Friendsville and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to fund a full-time officer to patrol within the city limits.
Friendsville has agreed to pay $53,449 to cover the salary, benefits and insurance costs for the officer.
Commissioner Jim Folts was the sole vote against the budget increase to fund the position. “If we add a new person and Friendsville decided they don’t want to (fund the position) then we’ve added another person to the sheriff’s staff,” he said. “... We may want to think twice about this.”
Folts said that in addition to the base salary of $33,018 that the position included $20,000 for benefits. “That’s truly extraordinary,” Folts said. “In private industry a benefit cost of 30 percent would be considered higher. We should keep these high benefit costs in mind any time we’re asked to approve an additional employee.”
Commissioner Tab Burkhalter pointed out afterward that the $20,000 also included such items as liability insurance, workers compensation and Social Security costs. “The only benefits that the officer is receiving from this is dental, health and life insurance,” he said, adding those costs came to $10,000 or 30 percent of the salary.
After the budget increase vote, the County Commission unanimously approved the interlocal agreement. This proved to not be the last discussion of intergovernmental cooperation as Louisville Mayor Tom Bickers brought up the idea of his city partnering with the county for animal control.
“If need be we can establish our own animal control program, but it may make sense to see if we can do that more efficiently by partnering with Blount County,” he said.
Louisville would be willing help fund animal control services, Bickers said. “Let’s explore whether we can find some other ways we can partner and find shared services and greater efficiencies for where we spend our tax dollars.”
Bickers spoke during public comments at the end of the meeting. Commissioner Steve Samples invited him to attend the next meeting of the Blount County Animal Center Advisory Board.
At the end of the meeting, Folts took a moment to announce the passing of county resident Ron McTigue, who had attended and spoken at many commission meetings in years past. He was known affectionately as the “red-ring bologna man” in local circles because of a pithy comment he once made concerning the effects of higher taxes on his home budget.
In other business, the County Commission:
• Approved the use of $296,000 from the Highway Department’s fund balance for the purchase of equipment during its regular meeting Thursday. The fund balance will be replenished when cable franchise fee revenues come in later in the year.
• Renewed the county’s contract with Blount Memorial Hospital regarding operation of the county employee clinic until June 30, 2014, at the current $336,564 annual cost.
• Voted to prohibit people from soliciting money, funds or donations from drivers on certain roads in the county.
Because of a light agenda, the County Commission will not meet in August.