Friendsville City Commissioners decide it’s ‘no go’ for Blount County Sheriff’s deputy in Friendsville
By Rheta Murry | (email@example.com)
In less time than it took to ratify the contract, Friendsville City Commissioners Thursday rescinded, then let die, a contract to provide a Blount County Sheriff’s deputy’s presence in the city.
The five-man commission couldn’t answer the most important question — how to fund the $53,449 annual contract that would primarily pay the deputy’s wages and benefits. The contract, drafted by Craig L. Garrett, attorney for Blount County, gave Friendsville commissioners 90 days from ratification to cancel it.
Commissioner Mike Bailey a month ago made the original motion to ratify the interlocal agreement, and Commissioner Andy Lawhorn had seconded it. At the special called meeting Thursday, both men rescinded their actions, making the agreement null and void.
“I feel strongly that we don’t need to spend two-thirds of our annual income on one thing,” Bailey said.
He added the city needs money to fix roads and other items.
Lawhorn said he could see both sides of the argument. “We have to be frugal all the time with our income,” he said. “It boils down to taxes.”
At the same time, Lawhorn said he thought that if the city contracted with the Sheriff’s office for one year and the deputy assigned cleaned up the area and enforced codes, the city would look nice and run so well the townspeople would be more willing to fund the deputy the next year with a special tax.
“If you want all this, you have to pay taxes,” he said.
Commissioner Joe Howell abstained from voting. He said, however, he believed the commission should continue with the contract.
“We said that if they came back with the terms we asked them to, we would pass it,” he said. “They did what we asked.”
Following about 45 more minutes of discussion, Lawhorn made a motion to pass the agreement as written. The motion died for lack of a second.
When contacted by The Daily Times, Blount County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Marian O’Bryant said Sheriff Jim Berrong had no comment on the situation.
The Sheriff’s Office will continue to answer calls from Friendsville and sometimes patrol the city. Without a dedicated officer in the city limits, sometimes it takes about 45 minutes for law enforcement to arrive, depending on the situation.