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Commission approves security for city office

During their Oct. 31 meeting, commissioners approved a $24,000 budget amendment to pay for the addition of security officers in the Johnson City location of the County Clerk and Trustee offices on Marketplace Boulevard.
Members of the Budget Committee approved the funding for constables in the offices during the Oct. 11 meeting. Mayor Dan Eldridge said the funds will come from the General Fund balance.
“The need for security was one of the justifications for moving to North Johnson City. What has happened since that time?” Commissioner David Tomita asked.
“The city had offered us free space. Now we’re out in a safer part of town paying rent.”
Commissioner Pete Speropulos, of the Public Safety Committee that made the recommendation for funding, said the concern is not about people outside of the office.
“The ones who come in to pay property taxes and buy tags can be irate, and the employees became a little eerie and scared,” Speropulos said.
Eldridge said the request for security was made by both the clerk and trustee based on three months of experience in the new location.
Commissioner Mark Larkey made a motion to reinstate the constables at an annual cost of $24,000. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Sam Phillips.
Commissioner David Shanks said a solution on a long-term basis would be to hire an employee who could handle the clerk’s office responsibilities in addition to security.
“That seems like the logical thing to do rather than having someone standing there,” Shanks said.
Commissioner Doyle Cloyd said there are no male employees in either of the offices, and the role of security might not be appropriate for a female in this case.
“If you have a need, do what the rest of the world does and make cuts,” Tomita said. “We keep adding on.”
The motion passed 17 to seven, with Commissioners Joe Sheffield, Mitch Meredith, Joe Corso, Ethan Flynn, Ken Lyon, Joe Grandy and Tomita opposed. Commissioner George “Skip” Oldham was absent.