published Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Calhoun dissolves police force

The city of Calhoun's three police cars were inside the fence Wednesday at the city lot next door to city hall. The town's three police officers were "indefinitely'' let go on Monday.
The city of Calhoun's three police cars were inside the fence Wednesday at the city lot next door to city hall. The town's three police officers were "indefinitely'' let go on Monday.
Photo by Randall Higgins.

CALHOUN FACTS

* Population: 490

* Employees (mostly part time):10

* Budget (2010): $319,346

* Expenses (2010): $387,482

* Incorporated: 1961

Source: UT Municipal Technical Advisory Service.

CALHOUN, Tenn. — There are no city police in the city of Calhoun.

All three officers were "indefinitely" let go this week because of budget problems, Mayor Faye Parks said Wednesday.

The city police — three officers including the chief — already were off the job before Monday's city commission meeting at which Parks made her announcement.

"It is a problem of complacency we have had for several years" in the city administration, said Parks, who was elected to her first term in 2010. "We do not have a reserve fund. There is no capital outlay fund. Our tax base is very small."

According to the town's 2010 audit, Calhoun had total revenues of $319,346 and expenses of $387,482.

Along with a city recorder, city attorney and city judge, all working part time, Calhoun has two part-time library workers, a part-time garbage collection service and one maintenance employee. The city is served by two volunteer fire departments, one city and one county.

The police department "did not take in enough to pay their salaries," Parks said." But she added, "the state frowns on us operating off citation money."

For now, the McMinn County Sheriff's Office will cover Calhoun, Sheriff Joe Guy said Wednesday.

"We are going to take care of any law enforcement needs," he said. "We have already been patrolling there. I've done some patrolling myself. But I can't station an officer there, purely because of manpower issues."

Guy said he, Parks and the city clerk have been working out details to have an officer present for city commission and city court sessions.

In September, the police officers and all other employees were temporarily laid off. All the other employees, mostly part time, are back on the payroll now.

As for the police officers, "I am told they all have jobs," Parks said.

Parks said she's not sure how the situation will play out and whether the police officers will be rehired.

"Right now, I don't know," she said.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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