Commissioner Haynes joins Graham in decision to return discretionary money

Marty Haynes speaks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting on June 3.

At least one Hamilton County commissioner is responding in the wake of Joe Graham's plea.

District 3 Commissioner Marty Haynes announced Monday he plans to return his $100,000 share of discretionary money to the county's general fund by making a friendly amendment to the resolution that Graham, the District 6 commissioner, introduced at last week's commission meeting.

Citing his past opposition to the commission's decision to take $900,000 in discretionary funding this year - $100,000 for each district - from the county's rainy day fund, Haynes said his constituents want their $100,000 to remain unspent in the county budget.

photo Joe Graham speaks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting on March 19.

"With little public fanfare but after several weeks of meetings, calls and passionate conversations, my commitment was made to refuse the discretionary funds," Haynes said in a statement.

Graham, who also wants to return his discretionary funding, held a news conference Friday to express his concern over rumors that the other commissioners were considering redirecting his share for their own purposes. Graham added that he wants to put the money "back where it belongs" and encouraged county residents to reach out to their commissioners and ask that they support Graham.

"I appreciate it. I think he's doing the right thing," Graham said Monday of Haynes' decision.

The resolution will be voted on at Wednesday's meeting. No other commissioners are expected to return their discretionary funding, but Graham and Haynes are hopeful that the other commissioners will vote to allow them to do so.

The dispute over discretionary funding followed a proposed budget from county mayor Jim Coppinger earlier this year that left it out entirely.

Discretionary spending is typically used by commissioners for special projects in their districts.

Coppinger vetoed an amended budget passed by the commission, which restored the funding by taking money from the county's rainy day fund, but the commission voted to override his veto 6-3.

Haynes, Graham and District 5 Commissioner Greg Beck were the three who were opposed to overriding the veto.

Beck offered his congratulations to Haynes on Monday for his desire to return his discretionary funding but said his advisory committee already is planning how to spend his discretionary money and that he was unsure of how he would vote at Wednesday's meeting.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at or 423-757-6731.