Vehicle purchase for Hawkins assessor approved after extensive commission scrutiny

Jeff Bobo • Apr 25, 2018 at 2:24 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Assessor Jeff Thacker received a sneak preview Monday morning of the close budget scrutiny all county officeholders and department heads can expect when the full County Commission begins budget hearings on May 7.

Commissioners spent almost 30 minutes questioning  Thacker on his request to maneuver funds within his own budget to purchase a new/used vehicle for one of his deputy assessors.

Although Thacker uses his own vehicle to conduct assessments in the field, his three deputies drive county-owned vehicles.

The vehicle he wants to replace is a 2010 Chevy Equinox with 160,00 miles. Thacker told the commission the vehicle uses about two quarts of oil every 3,000 miles, and the transmission leaks. He needs a more reliable 4x4 vehicle for that deputy to drive.

Thacker requested to amend his budget by decreasing spending in 17 various line items to generate a total of $28,500 to pay for a new vehicle.

He said he’d like to buy it now while the Equinox still runs so he can sell it to offset the cost of the new vehicle

Commissioner Jeff Barrett said he would like to see the decision to purchase the vehicle postponed for consideration in the 2018-19 budget.

Thacker noted, however, that the numbers won’t change between now and the next fiscal year. He will still need a vehicle, and he currently has the money in his budget to pay for it.

“How long should you ride a vehicle when you’re running a fleet of vehicles before you turn them over?” Thacker asked Barrett. “Should we just run them until it comes out like this green vehicle sitting behind the mayor’s office? It ain’t even worth rolling to the junkyard.”

Thacker added, “It’s an embarrassment when you pull up to a subdivision that’s got $600,000 to $900,000 homes in it, and you have to jump out and put a piece of cardboard under it because transmission fluid is leaking or oil is leaking.”

Commissioner Fred Castle suggested that Thacker buy a $3,000 engine rather than a new vehicle. Castle noted that the commission will be making a lot of funding cuts that officeholders won’t like as the 2018-19 budget hearings commence next month.

Thacker said he was able to utilize funds from various office supply budget line items because he’s got enough office supplies to last until July 1, when the next budget year begins, and he plans on replenishing that supply with funds from the 2018-19 budget.

Spending was lower this year for state-mandated outside audits of personal property accounts over $100,000. Last year, Thacker budgeted $33,000 for outside audits, but it was a busier than expected year, and he spent $42,735.

This year, those outside audits came in $11,000 under budget, and those funds are going toward the new vehicle. He said he also overestimates his spending by 3 percent, which amounts to around $17,000. Between those two amounts, he has paid for the new vehicle in his current budget.

Commissioner Rick Brewer asked how long it will be before Thacker needs a another vehicle if this purchase is approved. Thacker said he probably wouldn’t need another vehicle for five years.

Brewer then asked Thacker, if the Budget Committee decided ask him to reduce his 2018-19 spending to the same line item levels he cut to pay for the $28,500 vehicle, would he do it?

“Yes, if you don’t want us to have any paper, pens, or notepads or ink,” Thacker replied. “Like I said, I’ve not bought any. I have drained the line item for office supplies to buy this vehicle.”

“I’m going to vote to buy you that vehicle because I feel like you need it, but also when these cuts come down, we’re going to have to sacrifice what we can sacrifice there,” Brewer said.

Thacker’s request was approved 17-2 with Barrett and Castle voting no.



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