Hamilton County Commission to Vote Next Week on Nepotism Pay

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd has been leading the charge for a change in rules that currently allows local elected officials to pay a direct family member that they employ county funds.

“What inspired it was the shenanigans that the DA was pulling about what kind of funds were being used to pay his brother-in-law and wife,” says Boyd.

Commissioner Boyd says District Attorney Neal Pinkston pays his wife and brother-in-law about $150,000 to work in his office.

“His wife and brother-in-law were funded by state funds. As soon as the state kind of warned him that he was very close to violation of that nepotism law, he switched their salaries to the county,” says Boyd.

Boyd told the other commissioners that he sent a letter to the 26 elected officials in the county, asking if they employed a relative. He says he’s received 20 responses and to his knowledge so far, the DA and the Sheriff employ family. Commissioner Greg Martin brought questions during the meeting before Boyd and the county commission attorney.

“It may be the best thing that we do and then it may have some unintended consequences,” says Martin. “I think it’s only fair that you try to do your due diligence. That’s why I was pushing hard today for how many people is this going to affect. We really don’t have an answer.”

The commission attorney said if the resolution is passed during the vote next week, the law would kick on on July 1st which is the beginning of the fiscal year.
He said family members could still be employed by the county but their salary would have to come from somewhere else.

“I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m not saying I’m opposed to it. I’ve got more questions than I’ve got answers,” says Martin.

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