published Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Jasper Aldermen wants detailed budgets

JASPER, Tenn. -- When it's time to discuss each year's new budget, Alderman Steve Looney said he wants a detailed request form from each of the city's department heads long before the debating begins.

The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week approved a continuation budget that will be effective July 1 because the new fiscal year's budget is not ready for authorization yet.

"That gives authorization to spend funds on July 1," Vice Mayor Leon Rash said. "A continuation budget is the same budget as the previous year, and it will suffice until we adopt a new one."

The new budget must be approved by Oct. 1, he said.

Looney said he recently received a detailed budget request form from Jasper Police Chief Tim Graham, and if all of the city's department heads submitted similar requests earlier in the year, budget talks would go much more smoothly.

"It shows exactly what he needs," he said. "He's not scared to put how much extra money he's requesting out there. For us, as aldermen, when we're sitting here figuring budgets for [department heads], I want to see something like this report."

Looney said he doesn't want an accountant to have to explain all the requests around budget time each year. He wants to know what those requests are ahead of time and why they are needed.

"I don't need talking to," he said. "I need some paper."

Graham said he sat down and "hen scratched and figured" his budget, but someone else prepared the form for him, so he can't take credit for the way it was organized.

Alderman Chip Wampler, also a police officer in nearby Kimball, Tenn., said one of the new requests in Graham's proposal included always having more than one police officer working in the town at a given time.

"I don't like just one person working," he said. "I don't care if it's a Monday night or a Friday night, in this day and time, that's too dangerous. We need to make sure that happens."

Looney said Graham's budget report was a "snapshot" that allows city leaders to see important needs.

"I want to see those increases and decreases," he said. "That's all I care about. I can look at [Graham's] numbers and see if they're feasible. This is something we really need to look at. I'm talking about every one of these department heads and the whole works. That's what I want to see when we're at budget time."

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