Apr 1 2008

A report in the Daily Times today on last nights budget meeting states that the sheriff needs more money to replace the School Resource Officers he transferred to other positions over a year ago.


Request for SRO funds

"As Blount County Budget Committee ponders the shape of the proposed 2008-2009 fiscal year budget, Sheriff James Berrong is asking for more than $2 million extra to make deputy and correction officer pay more competitive and fund 13 new school resource officer positions.

Berrong is asking for about $400,00 in additional funds to hire new SROs. In the 2006-2007 budget, the sheriff's office had 22 people assigned to the SRO program on the books, but the number of SROs declined as they were transferred to other duties. In August 2007, there were about 10 or 11 officers in the schools.

Berrong said he moved the SRO officers to the patrol division to keep up with the demand for services caused by a growing population.

"That was a very unpopular decision," Berrong said.

"If you get this money, will there be a least one SRO in each school?" Commission Vice Chairman Steve Samples asked.

"Yes," Berrong said.

The SRO positions were "transferred" to the Patrol Division in order to cover VACANT, EMPTY, NOT FILLED positions.

That then left VACANT, EMPTY, NOT FILLED positions in the SRO Division.

Now he wants to fund these again?

Where did the previous funding go? Those positions were transferred and funded with existing vacancies.

At least that is how it works in the accountable institutions I have been around.

The sheriffs department has maintained ~25 vacancies for the last 3 years. Positions never filled. That equals ~$1,000,000 in salary and benefits.

Why, if they are not filled, do we keep allocating funds for them over and over and over?

How much were we looking for to fund Highway improvements?

A Wheel Tax is needed?

David Ballard
Blount County Commissioner

Show me

Show us the 2007/2008 Letter of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding so we know how many SROs we now should have....

Why not?

When something like a shell game works, you just keep at it until the day they finally catch on.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." -Mahatma Gandhi

Money in the ether

So, the sheriff funds School Resource Officers (SRO’s) for 22 positions. He loses patrol deputies, which has its own funding, and replaces them with 11 to 12 (we don’t know?) SRO’s.

Did the funding for the SRO’s go away? Let’s say the sheriff’s reply is he used the SRO money to pay the deputies he transferred from the program. If this were to be his claim, what happened to the money allocated to the 11 or 12 who left patrol?

Shell game indeed.

This would be a great question for our counties CFO, our finance director Bennett. Aside from the fact his accounting is a joke to begin with, the fact he is head of the Blount GOP lets you know it’s a question that will never be asked.

Thank goodness we at least have the hard hitting questioning of Commissioner Samples;

"If you get this money, will there be a least one SRO in each school?" Commission Vice Chairman Steve Samples asked.
"Yes," Berrong said.

Haven’t we heard this before? Like every time the sheriff comes up to the ATM known as the courthouse in regard to this subject.

Money well spent?

Somewhere in the early 90’s, some disturbed elementary kid takes gun to Montvale school. There is a standoff that the school principal handled without incident.

This is the premise for wasting millions of dollars in the years since and decades to follow? As far as Blount’s bad investments go, and there are many, the SRO program has to rank near the top. To arm teachers who would be willing to go through safety/security training would cost a fraction of what the Sheriff is costing taxpayers. Between our teachers and BCSO, who do you trust more these days?

But like always, this is about the kids, or at least that’s what the local Republican machine would tell you. Unless it’s a kid, or this case an unborn child, that a Democrat is trying to take care of; (link...) Then it’s just a waste of money.

Should not the bigger question be

Should not the bigger question be, “Do we really need SRO’s?”


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