Commission approves CCSO lease agreement, funding requests

Published 5:50 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Members of the Carter County Commission approved several items of funding during their meeting on Monday evening, including a lease agreement for the Sheriff’s Office for vehicles to be used in undercover investigations.

Earlier this month, the Carter County Sheriff’s Office presented a request for a transfer of funds to the Budget Committee and a request for a lease agreement approval to the Financial Management Committee related to this project. Both of those committees approved the requests and forwarded them on to the full County Commission for final approval.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners were first presented with the lease agreement for approval.

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“We are leasing the vehicles for use in the drug unit,” CCSO Capt. Tom Smith told the group, adding the vehicles would be used for undercover operations.

Commissioner John Lewis asked why the Sheriff’s Office wanted to lease new vehicles instead of using ones which had been seized by officers as part of criminal cases.

“The vehicles we confiscate typically come from the people we are dealing with,” Smith said. “The vehicles are already known.”

Smith explained funding for the lease agreement would come from the Sheriff’s Office’s drug fund and would not require any new money from the Commission.

When the lease agreement came to a vote, it passed by a margin of 19-2. Commissioners Willie Campbell, Buford Peters, Dr. Robert Acuff, Nancy Brown, Mike Hill, Al Meehan, Ronnie Trivett, Brad Johnson, Isaiah Grindstaff, L.C. Tester, Danny Ward , Ross Garland, Timothy Holdren, Randall Jenkins, John Lewis, Sonja Culler, Ray Lyons, Kelly Collins, and Cody McQueen voted to approve the lease. Commissioners Charles VonCannon and Robert Carroll voted against the agreement. Commissioners Bobbie Gouge-Dietz, Larry “Doc” Miller, and Scott Simerly were absent.

Later in the meeting, Budget Committee Chairwoman Sonja Culler presented a request to the full Commission to transfer funds within the Sheriff’s Office’s Drug Fund to pay for the lease.

VonCannon then asked the same question posed earlier by Lewis, wondering why the Sheriff’s Office didn’t use seized vehicles instead of leasing new ones.

“The drug guys have to have dependable vehicles,” Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said in response. “These things we seize from these drug dealers and meth heads, they’re not dependable vehicles, and I wouldn’t put nobody in one of them to drive down the road, especially involving anything to do with law enforcement.”

The motion to transfer the funds within the Drug Fund to pay for the lease of the vehicles passed by a margin of 18-3. Commissioners Campbell, Peters, Acuff, Brown, Hill, Meehan, Johnson, Grindstaff, Tester, Ward, Garland, Holdren, Jenkins, Lewis, Culler, Lyons, Collins, and McQueen voted to approve the transfer within the fund. Commissioners Trivett, VonCannon, and Carroll voted against the transfer.

Members of the Commission also voted to approve the following funding requests:

• Allocation of $8,000 from the Litigation Fund to pay Reedy & Sykes for design work related to the Courthouse Security project. Approved on a vote of 20-1, with Peters casting the sole dissenting vote.

• Transfer of $14,860 from the “Snoopy Fund” to the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter budget to pay Reedy & Sykes for design work related to the construction of a dog run and/or kennels at the animal shelter. The actual cost of construction for the project will be paid for through the endowment from the DeLawder Estate. Approved on a vote of 19-2, with Hill and Meehan providing the two dissenting votes.

• Allocation of $6,714 from the county’s fund balance reserves to the Parks & Recreation budget to pay for repairs to damage sustained at the Roan Mountain Community Park during flooding in October.