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State Concerns About Van Buren Adding Own General Sessions Court

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
State Concerns About Van Buren Adding Own General Sessions Court

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has concerns about Van Buren County wanting to have its own general sessions court.

John Dunn is Director of Communications for The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. Dunn said adding a judge would require significant funding and the county would need to show it can cut its budget by whatever the cost could be.

“We have spoken to the county, and what I can tell you today is if this were to happen today, I don’t see how our office could approve that expenditure,” Dunn said. “As you may know our office is currently having to approve every expense outside of payroll over $2,500.”

Dunn said the county did take some steps to improve its financial condition in the last budget year. However, he said at this time the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office will be indefinitely approving expenses over $2,500.

“We’ve certainly seen some progress in Van Buren County but back in February we know that their long-term credit rating was lowered by S&P five notches to the lowest investment grade rating,” Dunn said. “They also put a pretty strong negative outlook on the county over the next 90 days from that time in February.”

Van Buren County Attorney Howard Upchurch told the County Commission Tuesday night that the expected cost would be a little bit greater than what they pay now to share a court with White County. Upchurch said the cost would not be near the projected fiscal impact of over $200,000.

Dunn said there would be concerns about any extra spending without a cut to the budget of an equal amount.

“If there is an increase in recurring spending there needs to be an offsetting, recurring cut,” Dunn said. “If they’re able to show that they can in fact incur a $20,000 or however much money it is to pay for this judge, then they should also be able to show that they can cut that amount of money from their budget.”

Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson said Wednesday that he and the county commission support the legislation creating a separate general sessions court in the county. However, Wilson said that if the final costs to the county are more than it can afford, he would not recommend the commission approves creating the court.



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