On August 20, 2009, Hamblen County Commission finally voted to come into compliance with long-standing state law and ceased paying car allowances to three individuals: Assessor Keith Ely, Marsha Hopkins, and Danny Young.
State law does not allow Hamblen County to pay car allowances. Click here to read the state attorney general's opinion 09-60 listing which three counties can provide car allowances (Knox, Bedford, and Dyer). See Page 2, Paragraph 3, and Page 3, Paragraph 3, stating that only Knox, Bedford, and Dyer can provide car allowances.
Despite the law and the attorney general's opinion, there is one individual in Hamblen County who still receives a "car allowance." That individual is County Mayor David Purkey.
Why, in the face of state law prohibiting car allowances in Hamblen County, does Mayor Purkey's "car allowance" continue to be paid? Because the mayor and the county attorney say that the mayor's car allowance is actually NOT a car allowance at all.
In a variation of the Clinton syndrome--the mayor and his attorney say that it all depends on what the meaning of "car allowance" is. What is unique about this word game is that the OFFICIAL WRITTEN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS (above) and the MAYOR'S OWN WORDS point out that the Mayor requested and received $600/month for a "car allowance."
(1) The Mayor's own letter and words (above) request a "car allowance" and then ask that the "car allowance" be paid through a salary increase;
(2) The Finance Committee minutes (above) that were prepared in the Mayor's office by the Mayor's staff show that a "car allowance" was voted on and approved; and
(3) The budget amendment (above) that was prepared in the Mayor's office by the Finance Director and approved by the county commission says that the $600/month is for a "car allowance" to be paid through a salary increase.
Purkey requested a "car allowance." [Click on page 1 and 2 of his letter of request above]. Purkey came to the Finance Committee and asked for and received a "car allowance." [Click on the Finance Committee minutes above].
Purkey's request for a "car allowance" was approved through a budget amendment prepared in his office by Finance Director Nicole Epps-Buchanan and later passed by Hamblen County Commission . [Click on the Budget Amendment for a "car allowance" above].
There will be further discussion of this matter on September 14, 2009, during the Finance Committee meeting that begins at 11:30 am in the conference room at the Hamblen County Health Department. [The Health Department is located next to the M-H Library on Main Street.]
Of course, the 11:30 am meeting time tomorrow makes it virtually impossible for most working people/taxpayers to attend without risking loss of job or income. Most commissioners, however, do not have to worry about work as most are retired, do not have a full-time job, or own their own business and do not have to ask for permission to leave work during the middle of the day with a loss of wages. See my previous post HERE that included discussion of meeting times.
It is my understanding that 12 of the 14 commissioners fall into one or more of the above categories: Larry Baker, Herbert Harville, Stancil Ford, Guy Collins, Paul Lebel, Nancy Phillips, Louis "Doe" Jarvis, Doyle Fullington, Dana Wampler, Reece Sexton, Joe Spoone, and Dennis Alvis.
In addition to excluding the working person/taxpayer, the 11:30 am meetings conclude with a taxpayer-provided lunch and drink for the commissioners. At the conclusion of previous committee meetings, some of the commissioners and county employees have even taken an extra (taxpayer-provided) lunchbox home for the spouse or family.
The old saying that there's no such thing as a free lunch, like so many old adages, obviously doesn't apply to government officials and employees!
There's nothing like scheduling meetings at times that for all practical purposes exclude the working/taxpaying public and then getting a free lunch out of it plus a free meal or two for the family.
Click here for a previous post where I publicly requested that meeting times be moved to a more taxpayer-friendly time.