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Huntingdon Council members question budget delay

POLICE VEHICLES NEEDED – Huntingdon Public Safety director Walter Smothers tells council members at the July 26 meeting that no bids have been taken for needed police vehicles. Bids should be taken sometime in August. Photo by Shirley Nanney.

Police vehicles needed, DeMaris position barely passes

By Shirley Nanney


Angela DeMaris was named Executive Director of The Dixie during the July 26 Huntingdon Town Council in a 4 to 3 vote. With no 2022-2023 town budget in place, three of the seven council members, voted against Mayor Dale Kelly’s recommendation and further questioned if any progress had been made on obtaining bids for police vehicles.

“Angela received her Bachelor Degree in Organizational Leadership from Bethel University and has been employed at The Dixie since 2006,” said the mayor. “Subsequently having knowledge of the various duties, training and experience makes her highly qualified.”

 Council members Byars, Kelly Eubanks and Andrew Maddox voted against naming her to the position. Maddox assured DeMaris it wasn’t her he was voting against, but it was because no budget had been passed and the council needed more information.

 Voting for DeMaris were Vice Mayor Nina Smothers and council members John Sanders, Will Atkins and Charles Hodges.

Sanders expressed his views on the matter.

“We fund  a lot of money to The Dixie and we love The Dixie,” he said. “However, nothing has been resolved in the budget.”

Hodges said he understood the recommendation was to hire DeMaris and had nothing to do with the budget at this point.

“It needs to be tabled until next month,” said Maddox who added the council had no knowledge of DeMaris’ possible appointment to be voted on at the meeting. “It’s a big deal and we need to know.”

The vice mayor said she thought the council members were aware of the budget situation.

Town Recorder Kim Carter said later the budget process has been slowed because she has not received the $11 million payoff on the Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake from the state.TWRA is now managing the lake after the state legislature voted to pay it off during the 2022 session.

“I have made two requests but have not received the money yet,”  said Carter. “There are bonds that will have to be dealt with in the process.”

The discussion on the budget and the purchase of police vehicles came up after council member Carl Byars asked for an update.

Carter said the budget workshop will be held within the week. 

Public Safety director Walter Smothers there were no vehicles on bid at this time.

“All the 2022 vehicles are gone,” he said. “It will be in August before the 2023’s can be bid and I don’t know what the prices will be. The dealers haven’t even been told.”

Eubanks questioned if officers were driving cars that worked.

“We’re doing the best we can,” Smothers said.

Smothers said there are a lot of problems with the Dodge Charger vehicles the police department has and they are expensive problems.

“We have lost three in pursuits last year and now have five left,” he said.

 Smothers pointed out that he had been informed that a better deal could be obtained through state bids rather than from dealerships.

In further questioning, Byars asked Smothers if he is trying to get the situation resolved to which Smothers said he should have the state bids by the Aug. 23 meeting.

In other business, council members passed a resolution that adopted a consultant selection policy for projects funded in whole or in part by the Federal Highway Administration or the Tenn. Dept. of Transportation.

In communications from the mayor, he noted the Historical Museum’s soft opening was held on July 23 and was well attended. It will be open on special event days and by appointment only during city hall office hours.

He announced about the Bassmaster Junior National Championship was held at the Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake July 29 and 30.

The next Bicentennial event will be Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. at The Dixie. Kent Jones, Gus Radford and Judge John Everett Williams will be telling stories from the past. The event is free, but tickets must be picked up at The Dixie.

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