The March meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners started off with a familiar topic, the new amphitheater. As I mentioned in the January edition of CC Notes, a resolution sponsored by Carmin Lynch and passed by the Building and Grounds Committee to void the stage naming rights agreement with Spirit Broadband was submitted to the Commission. The agreement was created in August of 2010 after the CountyAttorney and County Mayor Brock Hill worked with Spirit Broadband to lease naming rights to the amphitheater that is being built next to the new library. The naming rights were to be leased in consideration of $23,000 in payments to finish construction. During the time preceding the agreement, the Building and Grounds Committee gave Mayor Hill the authority to get the amphitheater built as long as it did not cost the County any money. The reasons, in part, that were given to void the agreement were that the County Commission did not approve the agreement, that a bid process was not used, and that the funds were not passed through the Finance Department. According to Spirit Broadband, funds in excess of the original agreement have already been expended on the project and the amphitheater is almost complete. Instead of voiding the contract, the County Commission decided to have the lawyers and County Mayor work with Spirit on the contract. The lawyers from both sides have been playing “phone tag” since the January meeting and have been unable to meet. Last month, the resolution was tabled until March. With no movement, several wanted to move forward with voiding the contract, which in my opinion would have resulted in litigation. Carmin Lynch made the motion to approve the resolution to void the contract. It was seconded by Johnny Presley. The motion to void failed 8-10 with David Hassler, Johnny Presley, Charles Seiber, Larry Allen, Terry Carter, Mike Harvel, Roy Turner and Carmin Lynch voting yes. Brian Houston, Harry Sabine, Nancy Hyder, Robert Safdie, Joe Koester, Jan McNeil, Jeff Brown, Sonya Rimmer, Clyde Cramer and I voted no. I believe the motion to void was made too soon and that the issues could have been resolved with more time. Today (Tuesday, March 22, 2011) the Building and Grounds Committee met, and discussed the subject again. Sonya Rimmer contacted Spirit Broadband and asked for a copy of the receipts. She received a copy of over $43,000 in bills Spirit Broadband has paid toward the completion of the amphitheater. Hopefully this issue has been put behind us and we can move forward with a plan and procedures to maintain and use the facility.
The rest of the meeting was filled with unanimous votes on several resolutions. One of the more important items concerned a request to the University of Tennessee to revisit the 4-H position that is being cut in CumberlandCounty. UT started implementing a new staffing plan in January to accommodate budget cuts. Budget cuts are a reality in this economic environment, but the Commission voted to ask UT to reconsider the Cumberland County position as there are more than 110 clubs and 2,600 kids involved in 4-H here.
Other resolutions passed included basic amendments to the contract between the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities and CumberlandCounty. Larry Allen and Casey Cox were appointed to the Wage Scale Appeals Committee. Funds were also released to pay for capital improvements to the Fair Grounds. The Property Assessor received funding for additional temporary help during the assessment period. He reduced staffing after taking office, but made it clear that he would need temporary help during reassessment. A budget resolution was approved to increase revenues and expenditures in the Parks and Fair Boards budget. Also, service fees, deposits and Vet disposal services were set for the Cumberland County Animal Shelter. A budget resolution was also approved to allow moving forward with the closing of the County Landfill.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your County Commissioner, and I thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. More information is available on my website at http://allenfoster.net. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact me.