CC Notes – January 20th 2015
The first full Cumberland County Commission meeting of the new calendar year, 2015, was held on Tuesday, January 20th instead of the normal Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. day. All members of the County Commission were present except for Rebecca Stone and Jack Davis.
The first resolution of the evening was to approve the 2015 version of the Cumberland County Road list as presented by the Highway Superintendent and the Regional Planning Commission. The resolution passed unanimously. The second resolution was one to enter into a Cumberland County Economic/Community Cooperative agreement with the City of Crossville and the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce. All three groups are committed to working together to help expand the current employment opportunities in our community, and to make Cumberland County the best place to live, work, and play within the state of Tennessee. The resolution passed 16 – 0. A resolution was also passed that would allow private haulers to deposit residential solid waste into transfer stations after agreeing to terms, including fees, with the County. Deposits must be residential solid waste generated within the boundaries of our County. The vote was unanimous.
A resolution to extend the current lease agreement with the Cumberland County Fair Association was also passed in a 16 – 0 vote. The lease will be extended for four years, expiring January 20, 2018. In another unanimous vote, the lease with the Red Cross was renewed for an additional year with the lease now expiring on January 20, 2016.
Several budget resolutions were next on the agenda. Additional funds were received by the BOE Cafeteria Fund from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association (SUDIA) designed to reimburse for equipment charges incurred when implementing the Universal Free Breakfast in the Classroom programs at Martin and Pleasant Hill elementary schools. Revenue and expenditure line items were increased by $3,000 to accommodate the additional funds. An additional $9,007.89 was received by the BOE Cafeteria Fund to minimize charges incurred for storage and distribution of USDA foods from state contracted warehouses. The formula for distribution of funds was changed resulting in the additional funds being allocated to Cumberland County Schools. The resolutions were passed unanimously. Additional USDA funds were also awarded to the Cafeteria Fund in the amount of $21,500. These funds will be used to replace the 37 year old walk-in freezer and cooler at Martin Elementary. The resolution was approved 16 – 0. Private donations in the amount of $375 have been made to the Art Circle Public Library. A resolution was unanimously passed accepting these donations.
The Sheriff’s Department has a fund that is dedicated for use in drug control and eradication. Sheriff Casey Cox requested $14,000 from this fund for the procurement of a drug dog and the required law enforcement officer handler training. The resolution passed 16 – 0. Commissioners David Gibson and Tim Claflin announced their conflict of interest as they both work for the Sheriff’s Department, and voted in favor of the motion. For those interested, the new drug dog will be named Niko.
After well over a year of waiting, a resolution transferring $233,828 from the BOE to the Sheriff’s Department for startup costs for four elementary school SROs was passed. This process was unnecessarily slow, but the funds were finally transferred in a 16 – 0 vote by the Commission. Commissioners David Gibson and Tim Claflin again announced their conflict of interest and voted in favor of the motion. The Budget Committee will take up permanent funding for the four officers during the coming budget hearings.
The next resolution of the evening dealt with authorizing the execution of a contract for purchase of enhancements to and replacement of the Cumberland County communication system. Previous editions of my CC Notes have detailed the many issues that have plagued the existing system. The Emergency Services Committee approved a proposal by AMK Services, LLC last year, but the Budget Committee requested more information before approving the intent to fund. A third party, Federal Engineering, Inc., was hired to evaluate proposals in an effort to minimize the possibility of having issues similar to those we are currently having with the existing system. The Budget Committee spoke with a representative from Federal Engineering after the vetting process. After questions were answered and details of the upgrade were explained, action was taken by the Budget Committee to move forward with the project contingent on contract review by the County Attorney and approval by the full Commission. The Commission approved this action in a 15 – 1 vote, with Commissioner Tom Isham voting against. Commissioner David Gibson announced his conflict of interest as he works for the Sheriff’s Department, and voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Isham stated he believe the county should go with a cheaper VHF system such as the one in Putnam County. I disagree and voted for this resolution because I believe that our emergency services workers deserve a professional grade public safety system. From what we have been told, the system in Putnam County doesn’t meet that threshold. When our officers and first responders are faced with a dangerous situation, they need to be able to rely on the communications system. The P25 system as detailed should meet that goal. Details of funding the $2.5 million upgrade will be considered after the Debt Committee reviews possibilities at an upcoming meeting on January 29 at 4:30 PM.
The final resolution of the evening was another that dealt with existing communications issue within the county. For quite some time, the county has been trying to get communications equipment placed on Renegade Mountain. Previous editions of CC Notes have detailed those efforts. In a 16 – 0 vote, the Commission approved a resolution to correct the original enabling resolution that allowed the County Mayor and County Attorney to work on solutions to the problem. This resolution should give the necessary authorization needed to move forward with finding a solution.
Local Option Sales Tax collections for the Board of Education came in at $677,375 against a budget projection of $667,817. This was a net positive in the amount of $9,558 for the month and a net positive of $33,054 year to date. This also represented an increase of just over $7,000 for the same month in the prior year.
Property Tax collections are at 48.1 percent of budget compared to 49.5 percent this time last year. Hotel/Motel Tax collections are $358,744 against an annual budget of $734,738, or 48.8 percent of the annual budget. This time last year we had collected $352,474. Ambulance collections for the year are $1,285,362 compared to $602,690 last year. The budget for this line item is $3,000,000 annually so the total receipts are equal 42.8 percent of the annual budget.
Prisoner Boarding collections for the year total $348,059 against a budget of $1,224,885 which is 28.4 percent of budget. Prior year to date totals were at $532,356. This money comes in sporadically from the State. A portion of the decrease can be attributed to the efforts of the Sheriff’s Department in getting state prisoners removed from our county jail. These prisoners cost more to house than the state reimburses to the county, so eliminating state prisoners from our county jail should result in a net savings to our county.
The latest county audit reports are now available from the State of Tennessee. If you wish to view the documents, go to my website at allenfoster.net, and click on the Documents of Interest page and follow the link.
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