County Mayor’s Notes – November 21st, 2022

Old Courthouse Courtroom Update
As mentioned previously, a water leak led to the discovery of structural damage in the large courtroom of the old courthouse downtown.  An initial inspection by a structural engineering firm found three of the large oak roof trusses have damage, rendering the original 1905 section of the building dangerous and resulting in the need to close that section to the public.  The three doors to that section (Main Street, and the two on each side) are closed until further notice.

Most of the existing flooring and ceiling materials have been removed to allow for the initial investigation and shoring work. There is a bit more to do on both levels to get the needed access for the shoring material.

The shoring work will include the installation of six columns (three on each floor) to transfer the attic wood truss loads to 1st floor concrete slab. The work will not require the penetration of the 1st or 2nd floor concrete slabs. This is a good thing as it will reduce cost in initial work as well as repairs.

There will be some remedial work done on the trusses to provide additional support. This will involve installation of LVL wood material to take the load off of the rotten truss ends.  The work is expected to start in about 30 days (the architect is trying to get that moved up) and will be complete in a couple of days after that.

A specialist in structural analysis will be visiting the building later this month to offer an opinion on the overall condition of the structure. The architects will come back with more details after that meeting.

The County Clerk’s temporary office is open at 1760 South Main Street.  All services are available including marriage and business license, tag renewal, and auto dealer services.  The office is open Monday – Friday, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

My office, the Register of Deeds, Veterans Services, Human Resources, and Finance will still operate normally at the old courthouse.

Cumberland County Commission Meeting
The November 2022 meeting of the Cumberland County Commission was held tonight with all Commissioners in attendance except Jerry Cooper and John Patterson.

Under new business, the Election Commission has decided to use the Cumberland County Public Records Policy as their policy for public document requests.  We have a very comprehensive policy thanks to Joyce Rorabaugh, Rebecca Stone, and Beth Davis.  The policy will be placed in the minutes of the meeting.

Tonight, we were able to recognize some prominent students that placed in the National Agriscience Fair!  Lexi Christian was named National Runner-up in the National Agriscience Fair where she conducted a survey named “The Perception of the Shortage of Slaughter Houses Nationwide”. She received over 1,000 responses with at least one from every state. She won $850 that will go toward her college expenses as she pursues a career as an agriculture educator.

Lexi chose this project because her family owns a beef cattle farm and has experienced difficulties in scheduling processing dates. Lexi’s written report was over twenty pages, she developed a research poster, and presented her findings to judges in an interview.  Lexi stood on a stage to present in front of members, industry panelists, parents, and advisors. She is the first member from Cumberland County to win this honor!

Bella Cross & Jacob Atkinson placed 6th in the National Agriscience Fair! They sent out a survey named “Consumer Preferences on Types of Milk and Milk Substitutes”. Bella & Jacob developed the survey, analyzed results, wrote a 27-page paper, created a research board, and presented to judges in an interview. They presented on stage to industry panelist, teachers, members, and parents.

We are very proud of these students!

Resolutions
The following resolutions were approved by the Cumberland County Commission.  The sponsor of the resolution is in parenthesis.

RESOLUTION 11-2022-1 – APPROVING A PLAQUE BE PLACED ON THE STONE MUSEUM IN MEMORY OF LOCAL WEATHERMAN STEVE NORRIS (MALL).  This plaque will commemorate the service that Steve Norris provided to Cumberland County for many years.  The plaque was approved unanimously.

RESOLUTION 11-2022-2 – PAUSING RENOVATION OF THE COUNTY OWNED BUILDING LOCATED AT 1760 S. MAIN STREET (WALKER).  This resolution officially paused the construction activities until January 31, 2023, at the old Progressive Savings Bank building on 127 South that was originally purchased for an Archives facility.  The resolution passed in a 16-0 vote.

You may recall that originally, in January of 2021, the archives construction and renovation project for the current facility adjacent to the library was funded at $1.6 million.  That project was worked on for years by prior and current commissions before it was approved.  Funding for the project was to come from fees paid for various clerical transactions that are specifically allocated to the Archives Facility.  By law, those fees cannot be used for any other activity.  The budget amendment was approved 16-2 with Commissioners Cooper and Seiber voting against.

In June of 2021, with the rising costs of construction, the Archives building construction came in $280,125 over the budgeted $1.6 million amount.  That resolution to amend the budget to cover the cost and was defeated 9-8 (10 votes are required to pass a motion).  Commissioners Norris, Stone, Threet, Sherrill, Wilson, Baldwin, Holbrook, Mall, and Patterson voted for the resolution. Commissioners Kyle Davis, Hyder, Gibson, Seiber, Jack Davis, Lowe, Cooper, and Blalock voted against the resolution.

Then, in August of 2021, the commission unanimously voted to purchase the old Progressive Savings Bank for use as an archives facility.  The only real concern I had with the facility was the left turn required to exit heading North.  It is a high speed and high traffic area, but the volume of vehicles at the archives is relatively low. Since that time, the drive through with multiple service points, the canopy covering the drive through, the drive through window, and the concrete under the drive through have been removed.  Architectural plans were created to rework that area into a secure storage area for the county documents that are legally required to be retained and cared for.  The design ensured that space would be available for many years in the future.  The purchase and renovations were all to fall within the previously agreed to price tag of $1.6 million.

Last month, the County Clerk and several Commissioners brought up the option of leaving the County Clerk’s office out at the bank building.  This resolution was created to pause the few remaining construction projects required to finish the conversion of the bank building for archive use, but also to ensure that a permanent solution is created for the archives.  Many want a full discussion for the solution, as changing the plan at this point will be costly.  Legally, the county has an obligation to preserve records.  We also have the funding via the archives to achieve that goal.

RESOLUTION 11-2022-3 – TO APPROVE PARTIAL CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP OF GRANTOR AND/OR DEBTOR ON NOTE AND DEED OF TRUST FOR THE “OLD HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUILDING” (SHERRILL).  This resolution simply changed the debtor and deed of trust of the note on the old health department building the county sold several years back.  It was passed unanimously.

RESOLUTION 11-2022-4 – AMENDING RESOLUTION 1205-6 BY EXTENDING THE DISTANCE FROM THE SUBJECT PROPERTY TO WHICH PETITIONERS MAY RESIDE (HYDER).  Currently, three petitioners must own property within 150 yards of a property in order to file a grievance with the Health and Safety Standards Board.  This resolution, passed 16-0, changed that distance to 250 yards.

RESOLUTION 11-2022-5 – AUTHORIZING THAT THE CUMBERLAND COUNTY SHERIFF AND DEPUTY SHERIFFS MAY RETAIN THEIR SERVICE WEAPON AND BADGE UPON RETIRING FROM CUMBERLAND COUNTY GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED SECTION 8-8-218 (PATTERSON).  This resolution is a great way to back the blue and to honor those that serve to protect us in our time of need.  It allows a retiring Sheriff or Deputy with a minimum of 25 years of service, or those retiring due to a service-related disability, or the family of those killed in the line of duty, to retain their badge and duty weapon.  The resolution was approved 13-2-1.  Commissioners Terry Lowe and Deborah Holbrook voted against the resolution, and Commissioner David Gibson passed (he is an employee of the Sheriff’s Department).

RESOLUTION 11-2022-6 – TO ACCEPT OFFER(S) TO PURCHASE DELINQUENT TAX PROPERTY OWNED BY CUMBERLAND COUNTY (HOLBROOK)

The following delinquent tax properties were approved unanimously for purchase and will now go back on the tax rolls.                                           

The following routine budget amendments were approved for various county departments by the Commission:

  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-7 – GENERAL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, LIBRARY $2,660.00 (DAVIS).  This resolution approves a grant for computers at the library.
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-8 – GENERAL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, PROPERTY ASSESSOR $32,000.00 (HYDER).  This amendment was to fund a used replacement vehicle for the Property Assessor’s office.  The vehicle that would be replaced is a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox with over 150,000 miles.  The transmission is out as well as the fuel pump.  A discussion was held concerning if the vehicle was worth repairing or if the repair cost outweighed the value of the vehicle.  The county Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor believes the vehicle has served its useful life.  The vote to approve a used vehicle was 13-3 with Commissioners Isham, Lowe, and Walker voting against.
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-9 – GENERAL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, HIGHWAY FUND $325,000.00 (SEIBER). This amendment is to fund updated mowing and road maintenance equipment from the Highway Fund Balance.
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-10 – GENERAL PURPOSE SCHOOL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, ARPA- NORTH KIDS CLUB GRANT $57,095.58 (SHERRILL)
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-11 – GENERAL PROGRAM SCHOOL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, SPED IDEA $203,695.37 (SHERRILL)
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-12 – FEDERAL PROGRAM SCHOOL FUND BUDGET AMENDMENT, FEDERAL TN ALL CORPS $182,440.00 (SHERRILL)
  • RESOLUTION 11-2022-13 – TO RESCIND AND NEGATE PREVIOUSLY APPROVED BOARD OF EDUCATION BUDGET AMENDMENT 10-2022-8 (HYDER)

Financial Update
Sales tax collections came in at $1,299,471 against a budgeted number of $1,259,902 for a positive variance of $39,569 for the month.  The year-to-date we are $196,817 above budget. 

EMS collections for the month were $271,227 with year-to-date collections of $1,243,319 which is $223,349 below budget.

Property tax collections are at 10.1% of budget compared to 15.0% last year. 

Hotel/Motel Tax collections are at $415,243 compared to $348,190 at the same point last year.  The annual budgeted amount is $1,163,326 which was the actual amount collected last year.  That means we are at 35.7% of budget this year compared to 43.0% last year.

Prisoner Boarding collections are at $113,980 against a reduced budget of $423,925 which is 26.9% of the annual budget.

Thank you for being part of the solution and thank you for the opportunity to serve as your County Mayor.  If you are interested in hearing my thoughts and views on news, events, and activities in Cumberland County, please subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you.

Allen Foster
Cumberland County Mayor
http://allenfoster.com