There have been so many questions regarding our Chief of Police resigning, and I want to answer some of those questions here. One of the biggest questions has been about our police department’s budget, so I will begin there. When I was elected mayor in 2015, the police department‘s budget was at $734,395. It has steadily gone up over the past 5 years to $1,096,450 in 2020. Needs of the police department have been a regular topic during my time on the council, and the chief has consistently lobbied to make the department the best it can be. We have increased that budget steadily, and it is our biggest line item of all our departments. Having said that, there are still needs for our police department and other departments. We have been committed to keeping our tax rate steady for a number of years. Walking the line between keeping our tax rate low and effectively funding all of our departments has been one of the hardest tasks as an elected official.
While I have been aware of our chief’s frustration for some time, it has recently escalated to what happened Monday night. There were other issues brought up during the resignation that are easier to address than funding, and I believe the council should take action on those items as soon as possible. Our hiring procedures can be adjusted to give our next police chief more options when trying to hire officers. We should also involve our next police chief in council discussions far more than we have in the past. The feeling of not being heard was palpable during Dan’s remarks, and it would be extremely productive to hear from all of our department heads on a more regular basis. I also believe that encouraging a dialogue between the mayor and staff would help diminish the disconnect between city staff and policy makers.
Obviously, there are more issues at play than budgetary concerns. In every profession and in every life, there are relationship factors that come into play when trying to make any business or government entity work. As a council, we are actively working to get all the facts and work as a team to avoid similar situations in the future. I will be less public about personnel issues that arise as part of those endeavors, but I also want to be clear that some hard conversations are necessary and inevitable after what transpired at our last meeting. We are addressing, and getting to the bottom of various issues and rumors that have been circulating over the past two days. Our city employees should expect our council and mayor to handle personnel issues in executive session. Our city employees and our citizens should also expect obvious issues to be addressed meaningfully. Ringgold can be assured that we are working to make our city the best it can be. No one on our council is the type to put our head in the sand and ignore situations that almost literally slap us in the face.