Jefferson Council Discusses Tourism, Police Budgets

By BOB PALMER,
Jimplecute Editor

Jefferson aldermen tweaked the police department budget and discussed tourism department expenses at a called meeting last week. Council members and those in the audience lamented Tourism Director Kevin Godfrey was not present for the exchange. Mayor Bubba Haggard said that he had alerted Godfrey to the meeting. Godfrey, responding to a question from the Jimplecute, said he was out of town.

“I have had a trip planned for over a month and was out of town,” Godfrey wrote. “Mayor Haggard mentioned that it would be on the agenda in an unrelated email on Monday the 5th at 8:35 p.m. but there was no expectation of me attending in the email. He was aware that I would not be attendance at the meeting.”

Bed and Breakfast owners Pam Thomas and Tammy Doriot questioned Godfrey’s use of Hotel Occupancy Tax money, such as the purchase of picnic tables at the Tourism Building. “The HOT tax can only be used to put heads in beds,” Thomas declared.

City Attorney Mike Martin agreed. “After a couple minutes research, I believe the lady (Thomas) is right,” Martin said. “The tourism director needs to have a ‘come to Jesus meeting.’” Alderman Victor Perot also objected to the use of a city credit card to purchase the picnic tables for $475 from Lowes. “My thing about using credit card is that we will end up paying sales tax,” Perot said. “My deal is to take credit card away from everybody. We’ve got to quit purchasing on line with the credit card.” Perot also questioned the oversight role of the Tourism Board with the tourism director.

“He (Godfrey) doesn’t have the total right to go out and spend money on anything he wants,” Perot said. “No, no, no… the Tourism Board is not just a sounding board.” Perot and other council members emphasized Godfrey must have council approval before shifting funds from reserves.

“From this point forward, we have to get back on the track,” Perot said. “And if he (Godfrey) or anybody else who works for us doesn’t want to get back on the track, we’ll have to find somebody else.” Police Chief Gary Amburn alerted the council to potential problems in his budget.

“With all the stuff going on back during budget time, there was only $8,000 put in payroll overtime,” Amburn said. “Last year we spent $21,000.” Radar and radio maintenance were also underfunded, according to the chief.

The council agreed to look at transferring necessary funding from Code Enforcement at their next meeting. The council routinely approved the Martin Luther King Day parade.

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