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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cocke Legislative Body
Members of the Cocke County Legislative Body had a long discussion Monday evening before approving line item transfers within the Sheriffs and jail budgets. Chief Deputy Derrick Woods asked to transfer funding for new tasers for road officers, jail personnel and court bailiffs. He said the money also would be used for radios and flashlights. The commission initially rejected the request, because of concerns about needed funds for the growing medical costs in the jail. This year those costs have totaled $600,000. But Sheriff Armando Fontes said the medical budget will be OK with a proposed $42,000 transfer which was approved. He then told the body that the new tasers are essential, new weapons are needed and the radio equipment and flashlights are important, so on a second vote the body approved the $60,400 transfer. The body did not OK the purchase of a nearly new patrol car which is available for $20,000. Chief Woods said three patrol cars are currently being repaired and he argued the used vehicle was a good buy. After the body was told that less than $100 remains in the vehicle maintenance fund, the $20,000 was transferred to that fund. Mayor Crystal Ottinger also asked that funding be transferred to needed overtime funding for the jail, which was approved. Commissioner Terry Dawson expressed frustration because he was not informed of the proposed transfers until he arrived at the meeting, saying that did not give him enough time to study the request. In response to a question from Commissioner Clayton "Skip" Ellison, Mayor Ottinger said the question of funding for school safety has not yet been resolved. The county and school system are awaiting word on state funding for School Resource Officers or armed guards at all the schools. The mayor did say that money from the COPs program for short term funding has been frozen pending the resolution of a lawsuit. Commissioner Jimmy Lindsey made a motion to eliminate the Corrections Partnership Committee saying the committee has made no progress toward a new jail. But CLB Chair Clay Blazer argued that eliminating the committee would not be viewed favorably by a federal judge if the county is sued as the result of jail overcrowding. So Lindsey withdrew his motion. Members of the Equalization Board were re-appointed for another two-year term. The body approved a 20 mph speed limit for all 316 gravel roads in the county, so that not all roads will have to be posted with speed signs. The members approved a plan to pay off $80,000 in bonds, saving the county $6,000 in interest payments over the next three years. Anne Fontaine of the Friends Animal Shelter asked the body to provide $25,000 for a veterinarian which she said she would match. The funding is the amount in the budget which has not been paid to the animal shelter this year. The commission took no action on the request. The body did however approve an animal control mutual aid agreement between Newport and Cocke County. The body met in closed session to discuss a pending lawsuit with regard to beer licenses in the county but took no action.

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