Health and Welfare Committee approves 50/50 split for Victim’s Assistance Program fund

Published 11:37 am Monday, October 7, 2019

Commissioners continued conversations about the Victim’s Assistance Program during the Health and Welfare Committee’s monthly meeting Tuesday evening.

During last month’s meeting, the Child Advocacy Center expressed interest in being included in that fund, which comes from court costs collected from convictions.

“There is obviously a high volume of cases,” county attorney Josh Hardin said. “My concern would be if we divide it up amongst more than one or two [organizations].”

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The fear is splitting such a fund too much may render the individual contributions relatively meaningless.

Commissioner Robert Acuff said the CAC is already on Carter County’s funding list, at around $5,000.

Commissioner Mike Hill brought up another organization that could also use contributions from this fund: Shepherd’s Inn.

He said he did not bring up Shepherd’s Inn as a suggestion last month because he was still serving on their board of directors. Between last month’s meeting and Tuesday, however, he said he stepped down so he could raise the suggestion.

“We fund them as an outside agency $1,000 a month, which covers their mortgage.”

He said their budget is “minuscule” compared to the volume and scope of the cases they handle on a daily basis, including rape, sexual abuse and more.

Neither CAC’s $5,000 a year nor Shepherd Inn’s $12,000 a year come from the Victim’s Assistance Program fund, however, and so the board discussed the possibility of adding both agencies onto the list.

Acuff said Carter County is relatively high on CAC’s caseload, just behind Washington County.

“I would make a motion that we identify those two agencies as the benefactors of this fund,” Hill said.

Commissioner Brad Johnson said both agencies “mirror each other,” and would both be deserving candidates to receive the fund. In addition, he said providing the support would represent overall cost-savings for the county.

The committee voted in favor of a 50/50 split of the Victim’s Assistance Program fund for CAC and Shepherd’s Inn. The matter will now go to full commission on October 21.

Towards the end of the meeting, Johnson said the conversation about the Finance Department’s request for a new employee during September’s commission meeting was “brutal.”

“To me, I thought it was embarrassing,” Johnson said. “We are 50 percent staffed compared to everyone else. You do not understand what those two guys do on a daily basis.”

Hill voiced questions about the necessity of an extra position in Finance, given the lack of requests over the years.

“The previous two finance directors, we never heard requests for extra staffing,” Hill said. “That was what made me give pause. That and the scribbled notes in the margin.”

Johnson insisted the extra pair of hands is necessary for the workload the Finance Department regularly takes on.

“There are two things in the military you do not mess with,” Johnson said. “You do not mess with the paymaster, and you do not mess with the cook.”