How to double dip and get people who make much less than you to clap for you

The June Agenda Committee meeting showed that there is very much a good ole’ boy network in Blount County and that the authority of the commission means little to them.

The commission is being asked to approve funding for energy efficient renovations partially paid for by a TDEC grant and the rest being paid for with local tax dollars.  There was no grant worksheet included with the request in the Budget Committee packet (see pages 25-40) or the Agenda Committee packet (Item G3b pages 102-117).  After pointing this out at the Agenda Committee meeting, lo and behold the grant worksheet appeared the Commission meeting packet (see page 49).

Notice that the grant worksheet says that the application deadline is January 30, 2015.  Page 51 shows an invoice of $3,000 for a contract fee and page 52 says it’s for a Program Grant Application.  There is no date on the grant worksheet showing when the form was completed.  How convenient.

This grant isn’t the only grant request that the commission is being asked to approve after the deadline has passed.  Item F3a (page 48), a SWAT team/unit grant, shows a deadline of May 13, 2015.

Procedure 2 of the county’s grant policies says:

After the Grant Worksheet has been reviewed, it will be forwarded to the Budget Committee. If the grant will require any type of county funding after it is awarded or in the future, it will go to the Budget Committee for approval. If it does not require any county funding, it will go to the Budget Committee as information only.

Procedure 5 of the county’s grant policies says:

Once the grant worksheet has been approved, the department can apply for the grant. In some situations, there may be a need for approval of the grant application before the Budget Committee meets. In these cases, the Finance Director and/or Mayor may approve the application and the Budget Committee will be notified at the next meeting.

The commission was not asked to approve the grant worksheet in January or February.  If the Finance Director and/or Mayor approved the application, they failed to notify the Budget Committee at its next meeting.  The lack of respect for the commission is glaring.

The situation gets even worse.  Denny Garner, the Facilities Coordinator for the Blount County Maintenance Department, told the commission that the grant originated out of his department.  Look on pages 52, 54 and 55 and you will see that Denny Garner wears two hats in Blount County government.  Denny Garner is also the fleet manager in the Sheriff’s Office.  Garner started in his role of Facilities Coordinator last year when the previous coordinator retired.

A look at the payroll shows Garner’s salary as Fleet Manger to be $38,035.  He received a $1,000 bonus last year and $6,253.58 in overtime last year.  His annual salary as Facilities Coordinator is also $38,035.  If Garner gets the same amount of overtime as last year, he will make over $80,000 wearing two hats in Blount County government.

Being a crony who can double dip the taxpayers obviously pays well.  Throw in a race track and he could triple dip.

At the end of the meeting, Director of General Services Don Stallions defended Garner’s double dipping by saying that he was doing a good job and that he is making less than the previous Facilities Coordinator.  The county employees clapped for Stallions.

Here’s what the employees should consider before clapping for a man who hasn’t exactly been the taxpayers best friend.

1) Do you think it’s fair that someone managing the Sheriff’s fleet should make a base salary that is over $9,000 more than the base salary for starting patrol officers and over $10,000 more than the base salary for correctional officers?

2) Did you get $6,253.58 in overtime last year?

3) If the county can pay the current Facilities Coordinator less than the previous one, were we over paying the last one?

4) Gary Farmer makes $66,783 to perform similar duties for the Blount County Schools.  Is he being overpaid?  Do you think it’s fair for him to make 2.3 times more than a starting patrol officer and 2.4 times what a correctional officer is making?

5) Don Stallions was the HR Director when the county health care fund began losing vast sums of money yet he says he didn’t know about it.  His salary last year to lead the health care fund into quick sand was $67,000.  Like Farmer, he made 2.3 times patrol officers and 2.4 times correctional officers.

Instead of clapping for someone who may make nearly triple what you currently make and being upset at the person who questions why this is happening, you may want to ask your boss why their cronies make so much than you do.  It certainly isn’t merit based.

Also see this.

7 thoughts on “How to double dip and get people who make much less than you to clap for you

  1. Denny Garner and Jim Berrong are big buddies. Garner gets his political clout from being married into the Coulter family.

  2. That application looks like a great plan. It only takes 179 years for the “energy star” windows to pay back on energy savings.

    Shouldn’t Denny be working with a mechanical engineering firm for all that HVAC design? His A/E team doesn’t advertise those services….

    The 2006 IECC also requires heating and cooling load calculations be performed per ASHRAE standards. Mechanical code will also be in play. Are there any duct smoke detectors required that aren’t already there? Required outside ventilation air for current occupancy and use? Combustion air for the gas-fired equipment? Fire ratings of the rooms containing the fuel-fired equipment and penetrations will be scrutinized. Any egress corridors being used as return plenums?

    Since the application states that the “fee for the calculations and engineering for the grant will be approximately $3000” and there is already an invoice from Barge Cauthen for that amount, then it would appear all that work is already done and bid documents are ready to go… right? So then what is with the timeline starting in July with bid documents completed 10/29 and bid opening next year with project completion a year from now? Is all that work paid in advance with a $3000 check? Or is this work “free”? It isn’t in the grant application budget.

    • “That application looks like a great plan. It only takes 179 years for the “energy star” windows to pay back on energy savings.”

      Yes I noticed that as well and thought about writing about it but didn’t because there are so many other problems with this. Perhaps I should have discussed it because it’s taxpayer money that we are talking about.

      This may be another one of those top secret Kronos projects where the Finance Director told the commission that there was no capital plan, all while the Mayor was working on the very capital project he planned to spend the capital money on. The biggest IT project in county history did not go through the IT Committee. One of the biggest energy renovations, funded partially by a grant, didn’t go through the Budget Committee like the grant procedures require until many months later.

      The Mayor has no respect for the Commission. The Commission bows to the Mayor.

      • That paid fee is just for the grant application. One of the requirements for those energy efficiency grants was a feasibility or energy study to justify the money (calculating the 179-year payback). You should expect another design fee to come with the preparation of the project documents and the contract administration. But by then it will be “well, we got this “free” grant money and don’t want to lose it” so you will be forced once again to approve.

        • “You should expect another design fee to come with the preparation of the project documents and the contract administration.”

          Do you anticipate that to be above the $306,863 total cost listed in the packet?

          • I will just say that I do not think anyone could afford to put together a window and mechanical hvac public bid package for you and administer the construction contract approaching a 1-year total project duration for a 1% fee on a $300k project.

            Without knowing the size/specification of the windows or the 7 hvac systems, you could only speculate the reasonable cost. I.e., are the windows worth $2400 each installed, or is the design fee built into the window replacement number? The information provided in the commission packet does not suggest the design fee is covered anywhere but the $3000 amount – which has already been paid.

  3. Pingback: County has no resume for double dipping Denny | Blount County (BC) Public Record

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