By: Pat Hunter
At the current cost of fuel at $3.49 per gallon, fuel is costly to consumers and even more costly to taxpayers. How many of you work a second or third job? Does your employer provide you with a car and gas so you can moonlight? The matter of secondary employment for sheriff’s deputies was discussed at the March 24th Loudon County Budget Committee meeting. Sheriff Tim Guider seemed to think that if it didn’t interfere with a patrolman’s job that it was a way for his officer’s to make extra money.
Sheriff Guider explained that it was brought to his attention that he was in need of a Resolution from county commissioners that would authorize his deputies to work after duty hours on private contract services while using county patrol cruisers for road construction projects and special events. He said that he had agreed to traffic control for a construction project on I-40 near the Roane County line, HT Hackney warehouse area.
In the past, second parties were charged $25 per day per police cruiser and $25 per hour was paid for the officer’s time. The paycheck was paid directly to the officer and a 1099 IRS form was mailed to the officer’s homes. Guider further explained how the patrol car money would go to Assistant Chief Deputy Jimmie Davis, contact person at the Sheriff’s dept. The Sheriff mentioned how checks were being “stockpiled,” which eventually were taken to the Loudon County Finance department in a lump sum to cover the expense for the use of the police cruisers. Eventually that was straightened out, where the Loudon County Finance dept. would be paid directly for the use of the police cruisers. Since this budget meeting, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Mr. Davis was demoted to Sergeant concerning another unrelated matter.
In order to be above board as far as the auditors were concerned, Sheriff Guider wanted to enter into a contract agreement with these private parties. He spoke to the captain of the highway patrol in Knoxville who provided him with information, which he distributed to the Budget Committee. The information included copies of costs, the creation of a policy and rules, sample worksheet and agreement. According to the Sheriff, if an officer worked over 40 hours per week, any time spent over that would be paid at time and one half for their services. Guider mentioned how the Finance dept. would invoice the secondary employer/party for overtime pay. Subsequently, at the April 1st Budget Committee meeting, there was a discussion that straight time is 43 hours and anything over that is calculated as overtime pay.
Budget Chairman Mayor Doyle Arp said that $25 per hour wouldn’t come close to covering the expense of time and one half including social security. Other expenses include medical, dental, life insurance, workmen’s comp., state pension, Medicare, etc. Arp requested that Purchasing Director Leo Bradshaw look at insurance costs. The agreement is to define the perimeters of this arrangement.
The cost of fuel for the police cruisers came up and Guider mentioned that $25 included the cost of fuel. Someone also mentioned liability issues and how an incidence in another county resulted in a wreck while a police officer was on a second job resulting in a lawsuit and workman’s comp. issues.
Commissioners to address Sheriff’s Moonlighting Policy, Maybe...
Mayor Arp mentioned that he had learned one week earlier about the Sheriff’s issues and request. He suggested that this matter go before his attorney for review and when ready be placed on the next commission agenda but that didn't happen at the April 7th commission meeting.
Nothing was said about the proposed policy to include a fee that would cover a legitimate cost of the police cruisers including the spiraling cost of fuel, wear and tear, etc., as well as the cost of administration, legal fees, and issues about lawsuits, settlements and workers' compensation claims.
Just this fiscal year, taxpayers spent about $110,000 for five (5) new police cruisers not including other equipment for each cruiser.
About two years ago, Sheriff Tim Guider filed a lawsuit for more personnel and police cruisers to address growth and protecting the public; the lawsuit was settled months later. Now we learn that personnel and cruisers are also used for contract employment so an officer could earn extra money.
A 20 gallon fuel tank at a cost of $3.49 per gallon, less gasoline tax would still cost about $61.84 per fill-up, while the poor taxpayers receive a paltry $25 per day for the use of one police cruiser. Who takes care of taxpayers that pay all the bills, not the Sheriff, it would seem!