ROGERSVILLE — There was an ugly exchange between Budget Committee Chairman Stacy Vaughan and Commissioner Michael Herrell during the discussion Monday evening on a proposed $40 wheel tax exemption for seniors 70 and older.
An already contentious discussion boiled over when Herrell, who co-sponsored the resolution, abruptly went off topic and brought up a project involving a water line and restroom installation at the county-owned building occupied by the Stanley Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
Vaughan, who is the chief of the SVVFD, told Herrell to "shut up."
Vaughan: "You have to understand how county government works to make an educated decision or things get all thrown out of whack."
Herrell: "You can say whatever, but it's like you right now. You're spending all kinds of money on your fire department up there. Is that not correct?"
Vaughan: "The Stanley Valley fire department has spent $3,000 of its money up there. Now the county ... shut up. Don't go nowhere like that. I know what you're trying to do."
Herrell: "I ain't trying to do nothing, but don't tell me to shut up."
Vaughan: "Listen to me. I know what you're trying to imply, and I don't appreciate it. The fire department is not taking nothing off the county. The full commission voted to put a bathroom in that county building"
Herrell: "Does it have a bathroom in it?"
Vaughan: "They're building it, Mike."
Herrell: "It was approved two years ago."
Vaughan: "And you know why we didn't spend it? Because the county was broke. That's why we didn't go forward and spend it."
Herrell: "Did you give that money back to the county?"
Vaughan: "It stayed in the budget, Mike."
Herrell: "It stayed in the budget, but you got it right back."
Vaughan: “I didn't get nothing."
Herrell: "Your fire department got it back."
Vaughan: "You're not even smart enough to understand how the county works. You can't even catch on."
Herrell: "I think you're the one who ain't smart enough because you're sitting there trying to tell us that you're going to get rid of the wheel tax after the end of this ... (interrupted by a commissioner who changes the subject)."
On Tuesday, Vaughan issued a statement about the incident:
“Since taking over as budget chairman I have been subjected to the same bullying and harassment from certain commissioners that led to the previous budget chairman resigning from the commission.”
Vaughn said he felt comments being made about the SVVFD fire hall project were misleading.
“This past budget year has been an emotional and trying time for all of us commissioners. Emotions got the best of me during this incident, and for that I apologize.”