Regarding the jail we’ve learned of a secret $2 million plan, a contract signed without commission approval, inmates filling our jail that we don’t have to keep, a company being paid 3.5 times more than the lowest offer, a purchasing agent writing a resolution about the jail that failed to mention the word jail in the resolution, the inspecting authority (TCI) having no authority to shut the jail down but pushing the county to build and its Corrections Partnership Coordinator bullying people attending public meetings. Now we learn that the $2 million in assignments for the jail are not recognized by the Comptroller’s Office (see below).
Is there anything regarding the jail that can be trusted? The public trust has been broken. The public has good reason to be very skeptical and cautious of anything presented to it regarding the jail, regardless of what the courthouse clique calls it (i.e. Transitional Facility).
What we see now is that there are essentially two sets of books: the lawful set of books recognized by the state and a second set of books by the courthouse clique. How many other slush funds are there in the courthouse clique’s 2nd set of books?
This all makes the case of why one more layer of secret bureaucracy through the Purchasing Department should not be tolerated. The evaluation process of qualifications should not be done in secret and the Yager/Calfee exemption law should be repealed.
Contact Senator Ken Yager firstname.lastname@example.org and Representative Kent Calfee email@example.com to repeal the secret purchasing practices.
Here is my correspondence with Jim Arnette, the Director of the Division of Local Government Audit in the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury.
From: “Jim Arnette” <Jim.Arnette@cot.tn.gov>
Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2017 2:07pm
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Cc: “Justin Wilson” <Justin.Wilson@cot.tn.gov>, “Bryan Burklin” <Bryan.Burklin@cot.tn.gov>, “Mark Treece” <Mark.Treece@cot.tn.gov> Subject: RE: Who authorized assigning this $2 million?
We found no documentation that the county commission has adopted a resolution or policy clearly giving management the authority to assign fund balance for external reporting purposes. Therefore, we have not recognized these assignments in the financial statements in the annual financial report that we issue with our audit opinion. Although we do not recognize the authority for management to assign fund balance for external reporting purposes, this would not necessarily preclude management from recognizing assignments on their internal records as a management planning tool.
Jim Arnette, CGFM, CISA
Comptroller of the Treasury
Division of Local Government Audit
1500 James K. Polk Building
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1402
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2016 12:57 PM
To: Jim Arnette <Jim.Arnette@cot.tn.gov>
Cc: Justin Wilson <Justin.Wilson@cot.tn.gov>
Subject: Who authorized assigning this $2 million?
Dear Director Arnette,
Last year, I learned about a secret plan by Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell and Sheriff James Lee Berrong to set aside $2 million, $1 million last year and another $1 million this year, through contact with and in records of the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI). The September 2, 2015 meeting minutes of the TCI Board of Control are attached for your review. The part relevant to Blount County is found on page 7.
“Since that time, the mayor is on board 100 percent and called the sheriff the previous day and told the sheriff that one million dollars had been escrowed and earmarked for a new jail and plan to do the same thing next year.”
When I inquired about whether $1 million had been set aside by the Mayor without telling the public or the Blount County Commission, Blount County Finance Director Randy Vineyard informed me that yes $1 million had been assigned. He provided me a paper copy of the March 2009 Governmental Accounting Standards Board Document referencing Statement 54. That document is found here: http://www.gasb.org/cs/BlobServer?blobkey=id&blobwhere=1175820452832&blobheader=application/pdf&blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs
Under the classification Assigned is says,
“Assigned fund balance comprises amounts intended to be used by the government for specific purposes. Intent can be expressed by the governing body or by an official or body to which the governing body delegates the authority. In governmental funds other than the general fund, assigned fund balance represents the amount that is not restricted or committed. This indicates that resources in other governmental funds are, at a minimum, intended to be used for the purpose of that fund.”
The words “or by an official or body” are underlined because they were underlined on the copy provided to me.
Paragraph 13 of Statement 54 says much the same thing.
“Assigned Fund Balance
- Amounts that are constrained by the government‘s intent to be used for specific purposes, but are neither restricted nor committed, should be reported as assigned fund balance, except for stabilization arrangements, as discussed in paragraph 21. Intent should be expressed by (a) the governing body itself or (b) a body (a budget or finance committee, for example) or official to which the governing body has delegated the authority to assign amounts to be used for specific purposes. “
What I want to know and hope that your office will tell me is when did the governing body delegate the authority to assign these funds to the Mayor and/or Finance Director? Please let me know if there is a state statute that allows for this. If there is no state law, when did the Blount County Commission delegate this authority to the Mayor and/or Finance Director.
I await your response and wish you a happy new year.
Blount County Commissioner