Citizens for Better Government
Blount County Tennessee
The discussion at the Financial Management Committee bordered on bizarre. Several departments (including past champion of waste, Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher) requested permission to transfer money to a new account from which bonuses can be paid. These bonuses are in addition to the 5% salary increases included in the new budget.
Commissioners Walker and Ballard noted that some county departments were paying bonuses and others were not. In response to questions, the Mayor admitted that the county did not have any bonus program or guidelines on the payment of bonuses. Such guidelines usually specify that a department must meet certain goals in order to be eligible for bonuses. The guidelines also specify appropriate levels of bonuses for people in a department. The Mayor admitted the county has none of this.
Commissioners Walker and Ballard suggested suspending action on these requests until a formal county bonus program could be defined that was fair and equitable to all county employees.
Instead of taking this reasoned approach, the Financial Management Committee voted to let some departments go ahead and pay the bonuses. The fact that the members of the Committee had idea why they were paying out tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money did not seem to bother most of them. Only Commissioners Walker and Ballard voted against this nonsense. Commissioners Melton and Lewis, Road Superintendent Bill Dunlap, School Superintendent Alvin Hord, and Mayor Cunningham voted for these Alice-in-Wonderland “bonuses”. Why not? It’s only the taxpayers money.