Waste Watch :Hendersonville State Aid Street Fund Pt 2
Updated: Thursday, February 27 2014, 10:58 PM CST
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Waste Watch Follow - Up: Hendersonville State Aid Street Fund Pt 2
Hendersonville taxpayers, like Jimmy Mitchell, showed us roads in disrepair.
Yet in a Waste Watch report, Fox 17 found the city spent more than $112 thousand dollars from the state street aid fund earmarked to fix roads instead to buy four SUV's and Ford F-150 trucks.
Fox 17 did some more digging and found five Midstate cities; Franklin, Murfreesboro, Goodlettsville, Brentwood and Smyrna all using the state street aid for actual roadwork as the state guidelines outline.
The town manager of Smyrna explains why his city doesn't buy trucks and suv's with the money. Harry Gill says, "We're given specific directions with regards to how we can use it and we want to make sure we're one in compliance with that and two don't jeopardize any of that funding. We really have focused on using it for what it's prescribed for. "
Smyrna spent a little over a million dollars of the state street aid to improve driving conditions for taxpayers.
At the time of Fox 17's original Waste Watch report, no one from Hendersonville would comment on the vehicles purchase with state street aid.
Alderman Jim Waters in this week's public board justified the purchases saying, "If I sound concerned about these false accusations, you're correct because I am."
I called Alderman Waters Thursday and asked him for an interview to explain why he feels the vehicles fall under the state street aid umbrella. He said simply, "No comment at this time."
But Waters, willing to speak in the public meeting indicated the vehicles are used for maintenance of the streets, "The key words here are maintenance and administrative. In my interview w/ the public works director he said he had been out 3-4 nights in the last month to work on street lights and I can vouch for that because I saw him out there one night."
State guidelines say a city can use street aid to lease or purchase trucks or equipment used in the construction and maintenance of streets. Specifically paving, repaving, grading and drainage, repairs, and other construction type work.
I asked city leaders to provide a schedule of how these seemingly every day vehicles were used in this type of work and if they're being used in an official capacity why they're unmarked without any Hendersonville logo? I got no answer.
Hendersonville's most recent audit also questions the vehicle purchase saying, "Vehicles purchased from the State Street Aid Fund may have been driven for purposes other than those related to street maintenance and improvement."
Alderwoman Arlene Cunningham first raised the spending concern last year... and doesn't plan to back down, "I think it's a blatant misuse of taxpayer money."
And so does Alderman Mark Skidmore, "I'm concerned about stuff like that."
As is this taxpayer, "If I drive a simple 2006 Trailblazer, you can drive the same thing."
This taxpayer too says, "Absolutely wasteful. Absolutely!