Embattled Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver was asked to discuss his department’s budget with Mayor Karl Dean Tuesday, presumably with suggested cuts the mayor has asked each Metro department to submit — instead, he asked for a car.
And two additional staff members.
“Making targeted cuts in this and next year’s budget is not feasible at this time,” Lineweaver told the mayor, reading from a prepared statement during one of the first budget hearings of this year.
“That is not something that makes sense to do at this time,” he said. “We will work, as always, to cut costs wherever possible.”
In fact, Lineweaver did not discuss any reductions, rather opting to talk about his need for more staff, funding and a car to “improve the ability of all areas of the Juvenile Justice system to become more effective.”
The Juvenile Court Clerk has been no stranger to criticism since winning re-election in 2006.
Since then, he has been audited, arrested on contempt of court charges for failing to produce documents and recently was filmed by a local news station in his bathrobe outside his home when he should have been at work.
In October 2007 he was still facing criticisms from one juvenile court referee for presenting case orders to her office for approval some six months to a year after the original information had been filed. Those files pertain to either orders of protection – a court order that could potentially stop abuse, for example, or orders of support – a court order for child support.
Yesterday, Lineweaver only briefly alluded to media reports about him, but did not present Dean any suggested budget cuts.
The mayor has asked that each Metro department make proposed budget cuts totaling 5- 10- and 15-percent, but that doesn’t mean each department will be facing those cuts.
However, while certain departments like Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Police Department are likely to have their budget demands met, others stand to be cut in this year’s budget process.
The Juvenile Court Clerk’s department had a total expenditure of $1.8 million for the 2007-08 year, according to city budget documents.
The car Lineweaver said he requested several years ago would be used, according to him, to conduct community dockets at local schools, or official proceedings performed in the schools. Those are conducted mainly for truancy cases and only about once a week during the school year, which is about nine months, according to Lineweaver.
Although Dean made no decision regarding budget requests during the hearing, he did suggest that Lineweaver think about reimbursing his employees for mileage, rather than asking for an entire automobile.
“Can you reimburse employees if you only need it occasionally, instead of having a whole car?” Dean asked. “It would make it cheaper than getting a car,” he said.
Lineweaver said he never thought about reimbursing employees for using “their own cars.”
He is requesting additional funding this year to pay for a new bar-code system that he says would allow his officers to better track court records. The system would require that each file be scanned by each department when in use, and then it could be tracked through a computer system, according to Lineweaver.
Lineweaver said in the meeting Tuesday that despite all the criticism, his office was improving.
“Despite some recent misleading reports in the media, we are very proud of the improvement we’ve made in our office,” he said.
Dean would not discuss the Juvenile Court Clerk’s performance following the budget meeting, opting instead to focus on other Metro departmental hearings.