Petersburg receives additional CARES money; gives police chief a raise

Thanks to the Tennessee Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the town of Petersburg is eligible to receive an additional $8,400 for possible reimbursements to police salaries between now and the end of December. Earlier this year, Petersburg received approximately $21,000 of the $50 million allocated to Tennessee cities and towns as part of the pandemic economic recovery packages.

Alderman Rita Cowan made the motion to accept these funds; seconded by Vice Mayor Charles Talley. Later during the Tuesday, October 6 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Talley made the motion to give Police Chief Matt Griffey a $1 an hour pay raise, bringing his pay up from $17 to $18 an hour, plus insurance. That motion was seconded by Alderman Randy McDonald. Cowan gave the dissenting vote, later saying she had not seen a performance evaluation.

“Matt can go to any police department and make more money,” Mayor Logan Jolly said, adding that there is money in the budget for the raise.

Cowan said she had received complaints from several citizens who felt the town’s streets were not being patrolled enough. When Cowan asked Chief Griffey how many times a day he patrols the streets, he seemed to take offense when he asked, “Who thinks I’m not doing my job?” He said he patrols a couple times a day logging 920 miles in September. He previously reported 1,061 miles being driven in June and 1,006 in July. It wasn’t clear as to whether those numbers include the miles driven by part-time police officer James Halkis, who works 16 hours a week.

“Petersburg is only a square mile,” Cowan stated. “I wish as the police chief you wouldn’t have set hours.” Griffey works 40 hours a week Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

There are roughly 8.5 miles within the city limits.

Mayor Jolly told Cowan to talk with the police chief after the meeting and then defended Griffey’s job performance, saying, “Odometers don’t lie,” adding that the police chief wasn’t putting his vehicle on a rack behind the building to put mileage on the vehicle.