CC Notes – August 20th, 2018
The final meeting of my time serving you as a County Commissioner was held August 20, 2018 at 6:00 PM in the large meeting room upstairs at the Courthouse. All Commissioners were in attendance except Roy Turner. There were several resolutions to be voted on that should be of particular interest to all of Cumberland County.
The first resolution of the evening was to amend the March 20, 2017 edition of the Cumberland County Commission Rules. In 2016, the Tennessee Legislature changed the state law concerning County Commissioners with a conflict of interest caused when the commissioner or spouse is employed by the county. In essence, now the Commissioner only has to declare a conflict in committee meetings instead of the during the full Commission meetings. A commissioner that abstains due to conflict in committee is not counted when determining a majority vote. Although I do not believe this was a good change in the law, the Commission rules must follow the law, so I supported the resolution. The vote was 17-0 in favor of the changes.
Cumberland County is required by state law to archive and maintain certain county records. As you can imagine, over the years this has become quite the job and it comes with many expenses. In order to properly maintain the records, a resolution was presented to establish an Archives and Records Management Fee. Instead of having the archiving funded by the property owners of the county, these fees will be added to the cost of the records that, by law, must be maintained and archived. That includes $5 for all beer licenses, $2.50 for marriage licenses, and $3 for notary public licenses and vehicle title transactions (only on the purchase of a vehicle). These fees were approved by the office holders that collect them, including Larry Sherrill, Larry Warner, Judy Graham Swallows, Jule Bryson, Mayor Carey, and Sue Tollett. The resolution was approved 16-1 with Commissioner Woody Geisler voting against.
A resolution requesting a donation to the Fair Park Senior Citizens Center in the amount of $6,745 for a new van was approved unanimously. The members raised $20,000 of the cost of the van and asked the City of Crossville and the County to fund the remaining cost.
Joyce Rorabaugh was reappointed as the Cumberland County Archivist for a term that ends on September 30, 2019. Sally G. Bolin was appointed as a Judicial Commissioner and Marsha Polson was reappointed to the Cumberland County Board of Health for one year. Janet Klunder and Art Gernt were appointed as members to the Crossville-Cumberland County Convention and Visitors Bureau with terms expiring August 31, 2021. Tom Isham was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Darrell Comer on the Cumberland County Health and Safety Standards Board through May 15, 2019. All appointments were approved 17-0 with the exception of Tom Isham abstaining on his appointment.
On recommendation of the Delinquent Tax Committee, the offers of Harold G. Cliff, Sen Tung, and Alma Leung were accepted to purchase properties owned by Cumberland County. This will get these properties back on the tax rolls. Included in the purchase price are the attorney’s fees required to complete the process.
The final resolution of the evening concerned the possible creation of a restaurant food and beverage tax of one percent. This is not a tax on groceries but rather on prepared food at restaurants. The resolution requested the General Assembly to establish a Private Act or a General Law to allow Cumberland County to enact a one percent restaurant food and beverage tax. This money could be used to fund a Multi-Purpose Facility, popularly referred to as an Expo Center, and other tourism and business related activities.
The next step in the process, after passage of the night’s resolution, would be for the General Assembly to actually establish a Private Act or General Law that would allow Cumberland County to enact the tax. Finally, before the tax could be enacted, the Cumberland County Commission would have to address the issue again and approve the Private Act or General Law by a 2/3 majority. This process would take about a year.
Here are a few of the questions I have been asked about this resolution:
- Is this a tax on groceries? No, it is a restaurant food and beverage tax.
- Does passing this resolution enact a restaurant tax in Cumberland County? No, this only allows the state to determine if Cumberland County would be allowed to consider passing a restaurant food and beverage tax.
- Does passing this resolution pass the building of a Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center? No.
- If this resolution is passed, will the next County Commission that will be seated in September be able to decide if the restaurant tax is passed? Yes, the next County Commission would have to vote by a 2/3 margin to approve the tax.
There has been a lot of talk about the possibility of a Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center for the last several months. You may have read about the discussion in the Crossville Chronicle or on the internet, or heard about it on the radio. Many people still have questions that need to be answered, including the new members of the County Commission that start on September 1, 2018. Any and all projects like this need full vetting.
My intention is to ensure that everyone again has an opportunity to have their questions answered in public. To do this, as Mayor, I intend to ask the new Building and Grounds Committee to fully vet the Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center project and ask questions about construction costs, ongoing operational costs, revenue projections, parking, etc. This way, everyone will have ample opportunity to discuss the project with no rush to judgement or predetermined outcome. The Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center is an idea that may have merit, but a thorough public vetting will help determine if that is the case. The resolution passed 16-1 with Commissioner Geisler voting against.
A few numbers are starting to come for the new budget. Sales Tax collections for the Board of Education for the month of August were approximately $838,000 against a budget of $819,000 – a good start. EMS revenue is down coming in at $234,000 versus a $333,000 monthly budget. According to EMS Director Chris Miller, this is due to the process of relicensing with Medicare. This is a budget item that I will continue to monitor.
The new 2018-2019 budget is now online on my website, www.allenfoster.net. It can be found under “County Commission” on the “Documents of Interest” page.
It has been a true honor and privilege serving the Fourth District and Cumberland County for the past eight years as a County Commissioner. Thank you for allowing me the honor, and for trusting me to continue my service as your next County Mayor.
I want to thank those that I have served with over the past eight years. While we have had many meetings with strong disagreements, we have always been able to remain friends afterward. That is the way it should be, and I hope the next Commission is as lucky as we have been.
Finally, I want to thank Mayor Kenneth Carey and his staff for all the help they have provided during my transition to take office September 1, 2018 as your new County Mayor. Mayor Carey and his staff have gone out of the way to make the transition as easy as possible, and I truly appreciate it.
Remember, if you are interested, you can subscribe to my County Mayor newsletter by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/c_Zx-L.
Board of Commissioners
4th District Representative