Exempt Volunteer Fire Departments From Procurement Policies - And Response (2)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Hamilton County Commission just grouped a bunch of departments together in an attempt to reign in the CVB. I haven't spoken to any commissioners, but I truly believe it was unknowingly.

By mandating that all non profits that receive 25 percent of their revenue follow county procurement policies, they might as well have padlocked all local volunteer fire departments. We expect a volunteer fire department to follow these procedures?  You're going to need paid accountants to keep that straight. Who is paying for that? Nobody is paying for that, that's who.

While the CVB has an team of accountants, that get to eat at Hennen's, volunteer departments dine on smoked spam. Take Mowbray Fire Department for example. Mowbray gets a little over $20,000 a year because of some Claude Ramsey formula that funnels more money to departments in his former district. Out of that $20,000 a year, Mowbray has to pay bills. Equipment isn't cheap. This equipment they have to use when somebody gets hurt in the Pocket Wilderness.

That doesn't leave much left, but wait there's more....I wrote an article a few months ago about how Mowbray is in a severely outdated, mold infested, metal building. If you know about metal buildings, then you know it takes a lottery winner to afford to heat and cool the thing, when they're not exposed to mold.  

County commissioners, please exempt local volunteer fire departments and rescue squads who fall under the criteria you set today from your procurement guidelines. Other than that, with the exception of Commissioner Boyd, county commissioners will need to attend all board meetings. He doesn't have any volunteer departments in his district.  

James Berry
Mowbray VFD Board Member

* * *

What I get from the above comment is that there are other entities that are funded with taxpayer dollars that are not accountable to the public.

Please understand that I am in no way against the fire service but I have to wonder what procurement policies are they following?  Do they have procurement policies?  I see that the original poster identifies himself as a Board Member. Is he elected by the people or appointed by someone who is?

I want the fire service and all public safety to be as well funded as I'm sure everyone does.  In fact, I'm not opposed to any good use of my tax money for essential services.  This post however makes me wonder how many other places get my money but are not publicly accountable for what happens to it.  Maybe the fire department would be in better shape financially if they did follow some uniform purchasing policy or all got together and purchased in bulk at government prices.

I realize the original post was trying to make an exception but for me it just raises more questions and frankly makes me a little concerned about fire protection.

Jay Smithers

* * *

The Mayor's staff and the County Finance Department had over a week to study Resolution 617-35 to determine how many organizations the resolution might affect.  They could not determine the number of organizations effected because the non-profits benefiting from over $14 million of County Tax dollars are not required to submit budgets to the Finance Office to receive their money.
To my knowledge the Mayor has never required the non-profits receiving County tax dollars to submit copies of their budgets.  This may be the reason Mr. Kiser could not answer Commissioner Martin's question concerning the number of organizations to be effected by Resolution 617-35.

Last week I requested copies of the Humane Educational Society (HES), the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce (CCC), and Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB) FY2018 budgets. HES and CCC submitted copies to the Commission Office this past Monday. The CVB has yet to provide the Commission with a copy of their $8.2 million FY2018 Budget.

Any organization asking if the Resolution 617-35 affects them obviously has no budget or they would know.  After all, it is pretty simple math to figure out if their organization will receive 25% or more revenue from the County based on their operating budget.  All organizations asking for and receiving tax dollars should be held to the same accountability standards as every County Department, every Constitutional Officer, every Elected Official and the Sheriff's Department.

If the Volunteer Fire Departments are worried they will be affected, my question is; Why have they not got operational policies in place conforming to Hamilton County policies?  Every fire department within a Hamilton County municipality must submit operating budgets and comply with their respective city government's policies.  Therefore the Volunteer Fire Departments in unincorporated areas of the County should be following and complying with Hamilton County policies. This all seems pretty simple and basic to me. 

Well run non-profits have good operating policies, good boards members, and good operating procedures in place.  The "Unintended Consequence" of Resolution 617-35 will be making non-profits receiving significant revenue from the County operate better and more responsibly.  I think is a good unintended consequence.

County Commissioner Tim Boyd 


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