Double expenditure affects SRO funding

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

From Staff Reports

Chapel Hill town leaders and advisors say municipalities can't pay for a sheriff's deputy serving as a school resource officer because it would be a "double expenditure" by town residents.

That's according to the first publicly released document in response to Marshall County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett's appeal to three municipalities on behalf of Sheriff Norman Dalton, county commissioners and the school board.

"Due to the shooting at Sandy Hook," Liggett wrote to the municipalities on Jan 25, "there has been immediate attention to what it would take to make our local schools safer in incidents like this."

Five more SRO officers could cost up to $400,000 the first year, if new patrol cars are purchased, Dalton said. Liggett requested help in funding at least one SRO officer by Chapel Hill and Cornersville and two by Lewisburg. The Sheriff's department would provide the fifth. They would protect five elementary schools. The officers could be municipal employees, or funds could be given to the county to hire someone through the sheriff's department.

Chapel Hill leaders consulted Town Attorney Todd Moore, the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service and other municipalities.

All agreed that "The citizens of Chapel Hill are county taxpayers as well as municipal taxpayers and whether the officer is a municipal officer or sheriff's deputy, the end result of a municipality funding a position for the primary utilization for such a purpose is considered a double expenditure for municipal tax payers; therefore, funding (the) requested position is not an option at this time," Mayor Carl Cooper wrote to Liggett.

Chapel Hill supports "SROs in all schools with the understanding the cost is spread evenly throughout the entire county," Cooper said.

Meanwhile, town police have increased patrol at Chapel Hill Elementary School and Forrest School, he said.