CC Notes – June 20th 2016
Commissioners Nancy Hyder and Tim Claflin were unable to attend the June regular monthly meeting of the Cumberland County Commission. The first item discussed was a motion by Ninth District Commissioner Sandra Baxter Dutcher. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Terry Carter. Commissioner Dutcher requested the County Commission waive the rules and allow a resolution on the agenda pertaining to the proposed Crab Orchard wind farm. The deadline for resolutions for this month would have been June 10. A motion to waive the rules requires a 2/3 majority to pass. I voted against the motion to waive the rules for several reasons, but primarily because of the short notice. I found out about the resolution shortly before the meeting. Many pages of documents concerning the wind farm were also handed out and there was no time to review any of them. I want to be able to form an educated opinion before casting a vote, and in this situation I did not have the time. This was also not an emergency situation, and I believe there was plenty of time for this item to have been added to the agenda in the normal fashion. That would have given notice to the general public that the wind farm was up for discussion and allowed those on both sides to participate in discussion. I voted against the resolution to waive the rules along with Commissioners Sabine, Scarbrough, Isham, Hassler, Gibson, Davis, Lowe, Wilson, Turner, and Rimmer. Voting in favor were Commissioners Stone, Carter, Farley, Geisler, and Dutcher. I expect the resolution to be submitted via the regular process next month so each Commissioner can go on record in relation to the wind farm.
The next item was a discussion and presentation by the City of Crossville on a proposed indoor recreational facility. Interim City Manager Steve Hill talked about a possible partnership between the city and county to build an indoor recreational facility at a cost of approximately $20 million, depending on what was included in the design. The City’s proposal was to have the county taxpayers, which includes those in the city, to pay for the facility with a property tax increase in the neighborhood of 10 cents. This would be accomplished via a public referendum. A motion was made by Hassler and seconded by Rimmer to put the facility and tax increase on the ballot to see if the public would approve. There was no verbiage presented that would define what would be voted on by the public, and no outline of an agreement concerning where the land would come from, or how the recurring operational expenses would be paid (I don’t believe that the fees on these types of facilities generally cover operational expenses). The paperwork isn’t due until August 23 for the measure to be put on the November ballot, so I don’t see rushing the issue until the details are ironed out. In essence, I wasn’t really sure what we would actually be committing the county to, and it seemed as if were going to pass the resolution so we could “find out what was in it”, so to speak. After concerns were raised, a friendly amendment was added to the motion that would require the final verbiage to come back to the Commission for approval. The motion passed 15 – 1. I was the dissenting vote because I believe we could have waited for more of the details before making a decision on the referendum. I’m not casting aspersions on those that voted in favor as all will likely work out, but I prefer to know the details before I vote and I didn’t see the need to rush.
Personnel Policy changes from the Cumberland County Assessor of Property, Cumberland County Circuit Court Clerk, Cumberland County Clerk, Cumberland County Clerk and Master, Cumberland County Election Commission, Cumberland County General Sessions Judge, Cumberland County Register of Deeds, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, and Cumberland County Trustee Office were presented to for acceptance. The policy changes reflected the retiree insurance benefit that I have written about on several occasions. I haven’t supported adding the benefit, nor the way it was passed, from the beginning. The motion to approve was made by Commissioner Turner and seconded by Commissioner Farley. I voted against the motion along with Commissioners Scarbrough, Rimmer, and Geisler, but it passed 12 – 4.
The first resolution of the evening was the refinancing of $4.5 million in county debt. The resolution approved letting bonds at a fixed interest rate that is much lower than the fixed interest on some current bonds. The number of years left on the payments stay the same, and the reduced interest will result in a savings of $450,000 to $500,000 to the county net of fees charged. The resolution was passed unanimously.
A series of budget amendments were next on the agenda. The first was for $146,874 in overtime and staffing overages from the EMS department. This resolution, along with several routine year end cleanup resolutions from the Board of Education and for the General Fund were unanimously approved. Also approved unanimously was a resolution to clean up some accounting for the Disaster Relief payments incurred due to the ice storm from February 2015. This was recommended during our recent audit by the State and will prevent the issue from spilling over into the new budget that is currently being formed.
Property tax collections year to date are at 100.8% of budget. Sales tax collections for the BOE were down against the monthly projected income by just over $14,000 at $710,733 for June, but the overall budget is still ahead by $357,017 year to date with one month left in the fiscal year. The Hotel/Motel tax is still strong with $654,622 collected year to date of the $770,000 budgeted, representing 85% of budget through the April receipts. After having our third party billing company catch the EMS billing up again, ambulance collections are much better with $2,883,166 collected against a $3,373,748 budget, or 85.5% of budget. With June deposits looking to be around $422,000 and the July accrual yet to come, this line will exceed the conservative budget estimate with the income collected this fiscal year thanks to the help in getting the billing up to date again. Prisoner boarding is at 97.8% of the $500,000 budget with a total of $489,066 collected through nine months.
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