Juvenile Committee hears year's budget priorities

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 3/21/19

As directed by county leaders, the top budget priority for Bradley County Juvenile Court is salaries, along with infrastructure and equipment needs.

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Juvenile Committee hears year's budget priorities

Posted

As directed by county leaders, the top budget priority for Bradley County Juvenile Court is salaries, along with infrastructure and equipment needs.

The Bradley County Commission voted earlier this year to make employee wages a priority in the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year budget, and Juvenile Director Vickie Towne is formulating her department’s budget priorities based on that directive.

“We are on target,” Towne told the County Commission’s Juvenile Committee Wednesday, adding she anticipates the department will be ahead on revenue at the end of the fiscal year. Total revenue to date is $127,689. “We are pleased as far as our revenue report goes.”

According to Towne, priorities for Juvenile Court and Juvenile Detention are:

• Salaries – Towne said she understands salaries are a top priority for the County Commission for the upcoming budget year. With that guideline, she said she is looking at salaries for detention officers.

“I want to look at it fairly,” she said, adding her concentration is on lower-paid salaries “because that’s where it’s needed. … I do think they deserve what we can give them.”

Detention officers’ salaries start at $20,800 each for the 10 Corrections officers and “from there it barely increases,” Towne said.

She added if those officers’ salaries are increased, it will put their pay above the salaries of the next-highest tier of employees who earn $21,320. The highest-paid officer’s salary is $33,879, which Towne said is paid to an employee “who’s been here 16 years.”

Chairman Bill Winters asked how Bradley County’s pay compares to other counties. Towne said Corrections officers at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office have a starting pay of $29,000.

Malita Shaver, Juvenile Court administrative assistant, said she has called other counties for employee wage information. She said base salaries for juvenile detention officers is $29,000 in Hamilton County, $32,000 in Knox County, $35,000 in West Tennessee and $32,000 in Rutherford County.

Commissioner Erica Davis asked how much turnover Towne sees in Corrections officers.

“We’ve had a 50 percent turnover” for the last year, Towne said. Of those, two retired, six were terminated and five quit.

Also, since Jan. 1, five prospective employees have turned down the job because of pay, Towne said. There are currently three job openings.

“We are thankful that you all are looking at (employee wages),” Towne said, adding pay increases will go to the Corrections officers and not management staff.

• Roof replacement – Towne said because of recent torrential rains there have been roof leaks. She said maintenance looked at the roof to see if it could be patched.

“We can patch what’s there … the problem is they will not guarantee and warranty that,” she said of the flat, seamed roof over the older sections of the building.

Towne said she has a $2,000 estimate for patching and a $51,621 estimate for a new roof on the older sections, with up to a 20-year warranty. She added her main concern with patching is not having a warranty on the work.

• Back wall repair – Towne said a new roof could help with the moisture issues affecting the back wall.

• Detention recreation yard fence welding – Towne said a section of the fence is not welded correctly.

“That’s where we had the kids that were able to escape,” Towne said, referring to two juvenile offenders who escaped last November. The pair scaled the chainlink fence and crawled through a small gap before dropping to the ground outside the fence and running away, she said.

Towne said the estimated cost for the welding is $2,850.

• Three HVAC unit replacements – Towne said they are in the process on getting work started on the units for which funding was previously approved. That project will go out for bid soon.

Towne said the units are currently working but she is looking to the future when they may not work.

Winters said he wanted to review Juvenile Court’s budget request as a committee before it is submitted to the County Mayor’s Office. He added the primary reason for the meeting was to review the department’s budget priorities.


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