published Friday, May 27th, 2011

Marion board approves drug task force vehicle

By Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — The Marion County Commission unanimously has voted to buy a police-package Dodge Charger for the 12th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

Drug Task Force Director Kyle Brewer said his organization is required to have the board’s endorsement, but the task force will repay the county for the vehicle.

“We’re not under [Marion County’s] budget, and we’re not under state reign, either,” he said. “We’re under the district attorney. Our funds come from federal funds and the seizure money that we bring in.”

The drug task force can’t enter a lease-purchase agreement on its own, Brewer said, and because its funds trickle down through Marion County, the state comptroller’s office requires an agreement through the county.

County Mayor John Graham said the county took the lead on soliciting bids for the $25,817 vehicle and will finance it over five years with a 3.25 percent fixed interest rate.

“It’s not going to cost anything for the taxpayers,” Brewer said. “It will basically come out of our fund and go into Marion County’s fund. Our funds just have to run through local government.”

Brewer said the drug task force has to keep a “certain amount” of money in its fund balance.

“If we tried to purchase this, it would be too much of a strain on us,” he said. “We couldn’t pay it if we tried to purchase a car right off the lot for $25,000.”

County Attorney Billy Gouger said the formalities are not unusual and both parties quickly will work out an agreement for the reimbursement.

“It will be an agreement between the drug task force and the county,” he said. “[The drug task force] will agree to reimburse the county and will basically take over the payments once this has been set up.”

The 12th Judicial District Drug Task Force serves other counties in the area including Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Rhea and Sequatchie, officials said, but Marion County’s board had to approve the purchase since the task force is based there.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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