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State Comptroller Questions Overton/Pickett Emergency Communications Spending

Press Release from the Office of Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, April 22, 2018:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has identified $84,097.95 of questionable expenditures within the Overton/Pickett Emergency Communications District. The district provides enhanced 911 emergency telephone service for Overton and Pickett Counties.

Comptroller investigators question the use of district funds for a variety of purchases including $18,700.12 in food. The district purchases food on a regular basis and investigators question whether many of the food items and supplies are used solely for district-related purposes. These purchases included alcohol, medications, and a variety of purchases at groceries and restaurants.

The questionable expenses also include the district director’s use of the district’s credit cards to purchase $678.05 in fuel while on multiple personal out-of-state trips. District board members were not aware the director used his assigned district vehicle for personal out-of-state travel.

Investigators have also raised questions about the purchase of equipment such as a $3,599.95 massage chair for the district’s office, and a drill press and sand blast cabinet, which are located in the Emergency Management Agency building.

Other questionable expenditures for training classes, public relations, travel payments in excess of policy, possible conflict of interest purchases, and items that are not exclusively used in district operations are noted in the investigative report.

Comptroller investigators attempted to speak with all full-time employees of the district. However, the majority of the full-time employees declined to meet with investigators; therefore, investigators were unable to confirm whether many of the district’s purchases were for the benefit of the district and its employees or for personal benefit.

“Many of the problems noted in this report can be attributed to oversight,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “District board members must do their part to ensure accountability. This includes discussing and approving major spending and reviewing credit card transactions.”

Investigators have shared their findings and recommendations with the district attorney general for the Thirteenth Judicial District and with the Thirty-first Judicial District, district attorney general Pro Tem.

To view the investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/

If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at (800) 232-5454, or file a report online at: www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline. Follow us on twitter @TNCOT

Media contact: John Dunn, Public Information Officer, (615) 401-7755 or john.dunn@cot.tn.gov

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June Unemployment Lowest in TN History, says State Labor Dept.

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, July 20, 2017:

Tennessee has rate of 3.6 percent for June 2017

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced Tennessee’s unemployment rate for June 2017 was 3.6 percent, the lowest in Tennessee recorded history.

The June 2017 preliminary seasonally adjusted rate surpasses the previous low of 3.7 percent from March 2000. The state has not experienced an unemployment rate below 4.0 percent since it was 3.9 percent in February 2001.

“What’s truly exciting about today’s news is that this is a statewide story,” Haslam said. “Today more than ever, businesses have a choice of where to grow or expand, and because of the policies this administration has put in place working with the General Assembly, we’re seeing the job growth that comes when businesses choose Tennessee.”

June’s rate declines four-tenths of a percentage point from the May revised rate of 4.0 percent. Amid notable improvements in Tennessee’s unemployment rate, the national preliminary rate increases by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month to 4.4 percent, lingering in the 4.0 percentile.

“When a state’s rate declines during a national uptick in unemployment, that’s something to note,” Phillips said. “Just seven years ago more than 10 percent of Tennesseans were out of work. One of Governor Haslam’s top priorities has been to make Tennessee the best state in the southeast for high quality jobs. All indications point to that priority becoming a reality.”