Lunceford to be invited to December Financial Management meeting

Published 5:10 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

The Carter County Financial Management Committee wants Sheriff Dexter Lunceford to answer concerns about pay raises and other issues in his department.

The committee members want Lunceford to attend their December meeting and provide answers to three questions: how he administered the 4 percent pay raise approved by the county commission for all employees; why he hasn’t submitted a detailed list of his employees which is a violation of state statute; and how temporary pay raises were given in fiscal year 2021 and then rescinded.

Lunceford on Friday declined to comment on the request.

Financial Management Committee Chairman Brad Johnson said he is concerned that commissioners’ expectations are not being met, particularly in the case of the 4 percent across-the-board pay raise issued in July. “… We find out later that some did and some didn’t (receive the raise) and that some were granted 4 percent, some got 1 percent, and some got 6 percent,” he said.

In October, former part-time bailiff Roger Nave raised concerns during public comments of the commission meeting when he said part-time bailiffs were not given the raise. Lunceford countered during the meeting that part-time employees are not entitled to full-time benefits.

County Attorney Josh Hardin said the expectation was that the raises should be cost of living raises and those should be across the board for everybody. “There is no discretion in cost of living raises,” he said. “It should have nothing to do in regard to merit or performance.”

“I said last month, that we should call this office holder in but in the meantime in thinking about this, there was a lot of things that we had to verify,” Johnson said at this week’s committee meeting. ” … I have never seen anything that gives that office holder the authority to withhold funds unless it’s for correction or punishment.”

Johnson also raised concerns about the submission of a detailed list of department employees to meet required state statutes.

Johnson said he verified with the finance director that all departments except the Sheriff’s Department had submitted the list, which is required for audit purposes. “It was a minor find in last year’s audit and that find is a violation of state statute. That is why we asked the sheriff to the next meeting to explain why he has not conformed,” Johnson said.

The committee meets again at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 6.