Sheriff's Lawsuit

Aug 13 - admin

OUR COUNTY

D. Gary Davis

County Mayor

 

I am sure by now most citizens are aware of Sheriff Gobble’s lawsuit.  Sheriff Gobble states in the lawsuit that the County Commission did not adequately fund his requested increase in the Sheriff’s budget.  The County Commission did fund increases of $758,000 to the Sheriff’s Department, the largest increase of any county department, including schools. 

 

I agree that the Sheriff had the option of entering into a letter of agreement or to file a petition with the court.  I contacted the Sheriff after the budget was adopted to let him know that I would sign his letter of agreement when he was ready.  Unfortunately he chose the other route.  Register of Deeds Raymond Swafford, County Clerk Donna Simpson, Trustee Mike Smith and Circuit Court Clerk Gayla Miller all entered into a letter of agreement with the county. 

 

I deeply regret that Sheriff Gobble has filed a lawsuit against Bradley County.  The Sheriff’s Department budget has almost tripled in the last nine years, so the needs of the department have not been ignored by the County Commission.  During this same period the county built a new Justice Center at a cost of $16 million.

 

Gobble has said the salary of our deputies is over 22% behind the regional average for law enforcement agencies of similar size and responsibility. However, independent research by the Cleveland Daily Banner showed that the Bradley County Sheriff’s Deputies salaries fall somewhere in the middle when compared to adjoining counties and counties of similar size. 

 

Gobble is quoted as saying, “This lawsuit is on behalf of the citizens”, if that is true, then who is the lawsuit against?  One year ago, Sheriff Gobble was elected by the citizens of Bradley County. This lawsuit is against the very citizens who elected him and it is the people of Bradley County who will pay for this lawsuit.  As a candidate, Sheriff Gobble insisted on fiscal responsibility and pledged to bring it to the office if elected. The election is over and the people will decide whether his words had meaning when spoken or were just campaign talk.

 

You have heard the term “Gobble Tax” for several months, and unfortunately that could be a possibility with this lawsuit.  Sheriff Gobble continues to refer to “excess” fund balances and funds from the sale of the hospital to fund the huge increases he requested in his budget.  As I explained to Sheriff Gobble months ago, there are no “excess” fund balances.  Fund balances are in place to pay salaries, utilities and other county expenses during the months before property taxes are paid.  As I have said previously, Gobble has every right to apply for hospital funds at the appropriate time.  The interest from the hospital will not be available until January.  It is very frustrating when I have to continually clarify inaccurate comments made by the Sheriff. 

 

As I said in my response to the lawsuit filed in court last week, Bradley County is extremely fortunate to employ numerous deputies who are qualified and admirably perform the duties of their office.  I believe that many of our deputies are experts in their field and many of our deputies have provided longstanding service to our community.  It is unfair for Sheriff Gobble to imply otherwise.

 

I am saddened for our community that the Sheriff made the decision to file suit against the citizens of our community.  I will do my best to defend the county against this lawsuit. 
Filed Under: 2007
 


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