Budget Hearings Update
You may have been following the various news stories concerning the many budget work sessions that are being held by the Budget Committee. The committee, of which I am a part, held a daylong budget hearing in late March and has held meetings generally twice a week since then. Many hours have been spent pouring over the budget of every department in the county, line by line, and tough decisions have been tentatively made. The process is beginning to wind down, but many important decisions are still to be made. As a Commission, we are tasked with looking at the budget in a holistic manner in order to be good stewards of taxpayer money. When taking this approach, some issues may have to be delayed or denied in order to meet the more pressing needs of our county. As we continue through this process of prioritizing the needs of our county, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I will be happy to discuss the budget in detail with you at any time. After all, it is your money.
The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners was in session for the regular monthly meeting on May 19th. All commissioners were present with the exception of Brian Houston and Charles Seiber. During the comments section of the meeting, Director of Schools Donald Andrews addressed the board concerning the delay in the Board of Education submitting their budget. He apologized for the delay and said the BOE wanted to take more time and get more information before proceeding.
In a unanimous 16-0 vote, the Commission decided to donate land to the City for widening the road to Colinx. The road widening was a part of the expansion agreement between the City, County and Colinx. The widening will take about 12 feet of the Convenience Center that is located by the bus garage on Genesis Road. To keep trash service in the area, the options are to find another spot in the area to move the Convenience Center to, or to take more of the bus garage space and leave it in the same area. I reiterated my position that, while the road widening was needed, it is important that we keep trash service for the area. If anyone knows of a good piece of land in that general area, please let me know.
In an 11-5 vote, approval was granted to help pay for a new grinder pump for the Fair Park Senior Center. The building is owned by the county but the City helps with some of the expenses. The county will pay $900 and the City will match with the rest of the $2,800 repair coming from Fair Park funds. Voting against the motion was Caroline Knight, Johnny Presley, Mike Harvel, Sonya Rimmer, and Carmin Lynch. A resolution to waive the gate fee of the April 19, 2014 Cumberland County High School Truck and Tractor Pull held at the Community Complex by the CCHS Tip Off Club was tabled. The Building and Grounds committee wants to review the policy and make sure it is uniformly applied before the vote is taken. Commissioners Allen and Carter voted against a motion to allow Randall Hopkins to rent the fairgrounds arena for a meet and greet, concert, and apparel sale. Beer will be sold at the event but a security team will be provided as well as three deputies to help patrol. Concession sales money will be donated to the county fire department. Approval is contingent upon the Fair Association providing the county a written waiver to be approved by the County Attorney.
Budget amendments to clean up unbudgeted revenues were approved for the Railroad Authority in the amount of $9,601, the General Fund in the amount of $46,108, and the Drug Fund in the amount of $1,956. A budget amendment was also passed accepting donations to the Animal Shelter in the amount of $3,453. All of these amendments were approved unanimously. A budget amendment in the amount of $4,423 for the Trustee’s Office was approved 15 – 1, with Commissioner Lynch voting against. The amendment was needed for payment for additional audit work at the Trustee’s Office that was required by the Comptroller’s Office. Approval of a license agreement between the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Cumberland County was unanimously granted as well. This is a lease agreement with the State for office space used by the Ground Water Protection staff in the amount of $350 per month.
Property tax collections year to date are at 99.7 percent of budget and remain strong. The Hotel/Motel tax collections are at 71.2 percent of budget with year to date collections of $525,660. At this point last year, collections were $532,800. Ambulance revenue is still well down from expected revenues with only 62.4 percent collected against the budgeted numbers. Year to date, ambulance revenues are at $1,666,674. March receipts were $314,832, which is up. This line item continues to be of concern. Prisoner boarding is currently at 75.8 percent of budget with $793,243 collected through eight months. The BOE portion of sales tax collections was up with $571,347 collected for the month against a budgeted $566,998. The year to date total is still below budget by $9,081. The total year to date collections are $5,887,506.
Thank you for allowing me to serve the 4th District and Cumberland County. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at any time.
Board of Commissioners
4th District Representative