By AUTUMN HUGHES
Additional funding for gate guards at Bradley Central and Walker Valley high schools was discussed during Tuesday’s meeting of the Bradley County Commission’s Finance Committee.
A funding increase of $40,000 for gate guards was approved for the current fiscal year budget, but Sheriff Steve Lawson recently told the commission’s Law Enforcement Committee that an additional $60,000 in supplemental funding is needed. That request was forwarded to the Finance Committee.
“I think the law’s clear they need to be POST certified,” Lawson said.
Law Enforcement Committee Chairman Jeff Yarber said state statute calls for the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission certification rather than the Tennessee Corrections Institute certification for these personnel.
Lawson told the Finance Committee he believes making sure the gate guards are POST certified is the right thing to do.
“I believe people want their kids protected at school,” he said.
Commissioner Charlotte Peak asked if the $60,000 request is in addition to the $40,000 requested and approved in the current budget. Lawson said it is in addition, bringing the funding to $100,000, which covers salary and benefits.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said vacancies will probably cover the cost this year, but county officials need to commit to funding the gate guards in the next budget year.
Finance Committee Chairman Milan Blake agreed they need to commit to funding and said they will work with Bradley County Schools officials to discuss options.
In other business, the Finance Committee:
• Approved paying $17,168 for a four-year bond for Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith. Davis said the bond is based on the amount of money that comes through the office; the threshold for the bond is $4 million.
Davis said this item will go to the full Bradley County Commission on Oct. 1.
• Approved several budget amendments, including a $15,000 insurance recovery payment related to ongoing work at the Bradley County Courthouse; a $5 donation to Bradley County Fire-Rescue; and $4,941 to purchase liability insurance coverage for members of the Bradley County Election Commission in their official capacity.
• Heard from Blake he would like for the Finance Committee to meet once a month rather than twice a month, at 11:30 a.m. on the first Monday of each month. He said the change will mean more amendments to consider per meeting, but he believes they can “get through them faster” if the committee members research information in their meeting packets. Committee members typically have five days to review their packets.
“I think we can do it … I’d like to give this a try,” Blake said, adding the new meeting schedule will start on Oct. 1.
Davis asked if the deadline for agenda items will still be the Friday before the work session before the Finance Committee meeting. He said a week gives time to review the packet and suggested the deadline needs to apply to all items submitted.
• Committee members discussed the pros and cons of a budget amendment form proposed by Blake, but ultimately chose not to update the form. The biggest change from the current form is the addition of a line to include the balance of a fund after the requested transaction.
Blake said he suggested updating the form with the additional fund balance line because it would “give us a good idea of ‘burn rate’ and where we are” in terms of available funding.
“I think the law’s clear they need to be POST certified.” — Sheriff Steve Lawson