The Rutherford County Public Safety Committee voted Monday to raise offender fees for driving under the influence from $30 a day to $44 a day to fund an increase in costs at the Correctional Work Center.
The motion to raise the fees was made by Commissioner Robert Stevens, who said that the county had two options to address the rising costs.
“One, is that the people who are going through the system and using the services can pay for them, or if that’s not done, then the cost falls back on all the taxpayers,” Stevens said. “So, the state gives this option to us as a way to collect revenue, and it just makes much more sense to me for the people who are going through the correctional system to be the ones that shoulder the burden for providing these services instead of putting it on the taxpayers.”
The committee unanimously approved the motion to raise fees, and the proposed increase goes next to the Rutherford County Budget Committee.
The committee also voted to approve several budget amendments for some of the departments they have oversight of.
The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office received two grants from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, totaling nearly $137,900, for alcohol and teen driving safety.The department plans on using the alcohol grant of $110,900 to fund more saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints, and the teen driving grant of $27,000 for simulators and other driving safety equipment.
Sheriff's Office officials also received a 2013 grant of $30,821 that they requested to use for the purchase of new equipment for law enforcement personnel.
Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office requested the use of $2,750 to be donated to their K-9 fund to purchase cooling vests for their dogs to help prevent any future overheating incidents and keep long-term costs of canine care down.
Ambulance Services, Drug Court and the Fire and Rescue Department also received grants and requested budget amendments.
Ambulance Services received a grant of $55,000 from the Christy-Houston Foundation for equipment; Drug Court received a grant of $60,000 from the Highway Safety Office for the DUI court program; and Fire and Rescue received a grant of $155,000 from the Christy-Houston Foundation for a new rescue truck.
Other issues discussed during the meeting were ways to handle county volunteer fire departments not abiding by reporting requirements, how to limit proper emergency response to only the necessary agencies to reduce waste and how to deal with Ambulance Services’ problem of “frequent flyers,” or those who over-use emergency transportation services.