By Richard Rourk
The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Alderman took the opportunity to dispel some recent rumors that had arisen on social media during its most recent meeting on Monday, June 21
Town of Unicoi Mayor Kathy Bullen opened the meeting by explaining that she is driven to make sure that the board is open in its dealings.
“I want things to be transparent,” Bullen said.
Some recent social media posts have suggested that some members on the board wanted to defund and dismantle the Town of Unicoi Police Department. Vice Mayor Roger Cooper addressed those comments before a packed Buffalo Room at the Unicoi Welcome Center on Monday evening.
“I want to thank all of you for showing up to support our police department,” Cooper said.
Cooper began by informing those gathered that they had been “fake news” victims.
“I don’t know of anybody here that wants to defund and dismantle the police department,” Cooper said. “I have spent more time helping this police department than anyone else in the previous administration or this board. In one of our budget meetings, I tried to get our police chief more money but failed to do so.”
Cooper also stated that he has been the biggest supporter of the Unicoi police department.
“Another thing going around is that this police department is self-sufficient financially,” he added. “That’s not true. In our current budget, there is $174,000 to fund our police department. This coming year’s budget we have $192,455 set aside for the police department.”
Later during Monday’s meeting, Cooper made an amendment to Unicoi’s proposed budget to raise the salary of Unicoi Police Chief Andy Slagle. The amendment was seconded by Alderwoman Judy Ray. The board voted unanimously to raise Slagle’s pay by $10,000 bringing Slagle’s salary to $53,000 annually.
Bullen said that she had hoped to hire another full-time officer for the Unicoi Police Department, but that action may have to wait.
“We are going to look at every avenue in the future to be in a position to hire another full-time officer,” Bullen said.