Knox County Trustee John Duncan says bonuses will be paid back

Knox County Trustee John Duncan says bonuses will be paid back


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Since Knox County Trustee John Duncan III took office in September 2010, he has awarded $60,000 in bonuses to his staff and himself for taking online educational courses. Some of that was paid before the course work was completed.

Duncan said Tuesday his office will be paying $39,000 of the bonuses back the county. That is the amount paid before Duncan and the employees finished the courses to get the required certifications.

Knox County Commissioner Larry Smith says he was the first to question the trustee's office bonuses. Smith believes they violated rules because the employees were not certified.

Duncan first gave out bonuses in December 2010 and then a second time in October 2011. It was some time after the second round of bonuses that Duncan amended the language in a salary suit, allowing bonuses for employees even without the certification.

Duncan repeats what he has said before, that he did nothing wrong. He says his understanding of the rule allowed him to have the discretion to give bonuses with an assumption that the certifications would come later.

"I decided to ask the employees to pay it back and some came to me voluntarily. We just don't want any perception that this office is doing anything to violate the trust of the people of Knox County," said Duncan.

It has been more than a year since Duncan and his employees first began taking the online courses. Duncan says the course website was down for a few months, which caused some of the delay to take the last seminar for certifications.

Duncan says he hopes to have the certifications done in the Spring. 

Smith says he is happy to see the office paying back the money.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Tuesday he did not support Duncan awarding bonuses to employees without appropriate certification.

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