D. Gary Davis
I am sure by now most
citizens are aware of Sheriff Gobble’s lawsuit.
Sheriff Gobble states in the lawsuit that the
Commission did not adequately fund his requested increase in the Sheriff’s
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
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
Commission. During this same period the
county built a new
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
County. This lawsuit is against the very citizens who elected him and it is
the people of
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
As I said in my response to
the lawsuit filed in court last week,
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.