The Cost of Lawsuits and Audits

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Those behind the lawsuit and the audits of Knox County spending claim they're serving as watchdogs, making sure that those charged with doing the people's work are open and honest.

But we've asked Volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd to ask whether the time spent, is taking time and money away from the people's work.

Most everybody involved admits they’re distractions, but not disruptions.

Nevertheless, Knox County's elected, and appointed, have plenty on their plates.

It's much more packing into court so lawyers can determine whether would-be jurors might be biased in the Open Meetings lawsuit.

It's knowing you're among 40 witnesses, current former, and appointed office-holders, on-hold for 3 or six weeks.

“It's gonna be real tough for some of these folks, explaining to their boss, you know, I could get a call at any time,” says Commissioner Greg Lambert.

“We were told we would be on call, and therefore be able to go back to work, regular job, at Gresham Middle School,” explains Commissioner Chuck Bolus.

“It's a little different in law enforcement. You're used to waiting on the judge, so to speak, but we'll be able to get things done,” says Commissioner Lee Tramel.

By "We", Commissioner Lee Tramel means fundamental county services. Sheriff's deputies’ duties haven't changed. The County Clerks office still clerks. The buildings still hum.

But beyond that, “Honestly, I can't think of a piece of legislation that is being held up by this--we're still going forward in the stormwater ordinance later this month,” says Lambert.

But Commissioners have committed to, or at least threatened, subpoenas, to try to determine whether thousands of your tax dollars have gone toward paying supplements or car allowances, and whether Mayor Ragsdale and four staffers should pay them back.

While awaiting audits on Purchasing cards, a hospitality fund, and grants.

“If you do your job right, you get it done. It is obviously more, but you simply do what you're asked to do,” says Commissioner Bolus.

“That's taxpayer money, people work hard for their money, and I think it is absolutely important that we see it is not misspent,” says Lambert.

Tougher to total is how much of your tax money is being spent defending the open meetings lawsuit and broadening the audits.

The auditors maintain they're getting paid the same regardless, but the state comptroller is charging extra for its expertise and oversight.

Ultimately, voters may decide whether it's all tax money well-spent.

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