By now you may have read about the outcome of the ouster investigation conducted by the County Attorney concerning incidents between Commissioner Jerry Cooper and Board of Education (BOE) Representative Rebecca Hamby, and Commissioner Mike Speich and BOE Representative Tom Netherton. The findings in both incidents indicated a “mistake in judgement” by the Commissioners for not indicating they were talking to the BOE Representatives as a constituent instead of as a County Commissioner. No formal ouster proceeding will be commenced by the County Attorney.
The need for an ouster investigation is not the best way to begin a relationship between a newly elected County Commission and Board of Education. Communication between the two groups is vital to forming relationships and working together. All parties involved in the investigation have been heard, and the County Attorney has released his report on the matter. It is my hope that lessons have been learned and that we can all move forward and work for the betterment of Cumberland County.
The January 22nd meeting of the full County Commission was held with all in attendance except Commissioner Rebecca Stone. I began the meeting by asking for a moment of silence for North Cumberland Elementary School Resource Officer Scott Iles. Officer Iles was hit by a vehicle while directing traffic this afternoon. He has several injuries but is expected to recover.
The following resolutions were approved (resolution sponsor in parenthesis):
RESOLUTION 01-2019-1 To appoint Brooke Shaffer to serve as the Cumberland County Human Resources Director (Foster). My office received several resumes after the creation of the Human Resources Director position last month. Sheriff Cox and I reviewed those resumes and conducted interviews of our leading candidates. We both agreed that Brooke Shaffer was our candidate of choice. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources and General Management as well as a solid background in HR and marketing, both of which should prove useful to Cumberland County. I’m looking forward to having Brooke onboard as of February 13, 2019. The vote to approve the new HR Director was 17-0.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-2 To applyto the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds (Foster). These grants go through the Mayor’s office for recommendation. The County can apply for one grant per year, and cannot apply for another until any previous grants have been completed. South Cumberland Utility District (SCUD) is applying for the grant in an unserved rural area of their utility district in the Old Highway 28 and East Valley Road area. SCUD will be providing the matching funds required, plus up to an additional $350,000. This is the only request we received that is ready for a CDBG this year, although we are working on water issues in the northern part of the county as well. This is a resubmission as the grant didn’t score quite high enough to be awarded by the state previously. The grant application was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-3 To accept offer of Frances Atkins to purchase property owned by Cumberland County (Hyder). The Delinquent Tax Committee recommended an offer of $279.60 for the purchase of this property. This will return the property to the tax rolls after it had been removed due to property taxes not being paid for several years. The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-4 To accept offer of Matthew and Stephanie Speich to purchase property owned by Cumberland County (Hyder). The Delinquent Tax Committee recommended an offer of $263.80 for the purchase of this property. This will return the property to the tax rolls after it had been removed due to property taxes not being paid for several years. The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-5 To accept offer of Micheal Matthews to purchase property owned by Cumberland County (Hyder). The Delinquent Tax Committee recommended an offer of $817.80 for the purchase of this property. This will return the property to the tax rolls after it had been removed due to property taxes not being paid for several years. The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-6 To authorize the receipt of proceeds from forfeited property and designate the allocation of such funds (York). This resolution allowed the county to received forfeiture proceeds acquired and accumulated as a result of criminal offenses. This included the sale of real property sold at public auction as well as currency. The resolution was approved 17-0.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-7 Budget Amendment, General Fund, Sheriff, $400.00 (Cooper). Donations made to the Sheriff’s Department for the annual Christmas program. This resolution officially amended the budget to accept the donations. It was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-8 Budget Amendment, General Fund, County Commission, $20,000.00 (Lowe). The county Clerks of Court collect fees for a Recovery Drug Court program and a Veterans Treatment Court Program. These fees are remitted to the 13th Judicial District Recovery Drug Court Program as Cumberland County does not currently have a drug court. This budget amendment provides for the money to be remitted to that drug court. The resolution was approved 17-0.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-9 Budget Amendment, General Fund, Emergency Medical Services, $138,970.00 (Hyder). An ambulance was involved in an accident that resulted in the total loss of the vehicle. The county is being reimbursed $92,259 for the cost of the ambulance as it was a newer vehicle but one with a remount. This resolution added $46,711 to that amount in order to purchase a new ambulance using the insurance settlement money. This ambulance has been added to the existing order for this fiscal year which should help minimize the cost. The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 01-2019-10 Budget Amendment, Sanitation Fund, Post Closure Care Costs, $62,873.00 (Wilson). TDEC has inspected our closed landfills and found issues that need to be addressed. The repairs and maintenance will cost $62,873. The resolution to allocate the funds from within the Sanitation Fund and the Sanitation Fund Balance was approved 17-0.
Sales tax collections through December were $4,077,738. The December receipts were $806,666 which is $57,662 above budget. The January receipts came in good as well with approximately $779,000 collected against a budgeted amount of $768,000. For the year, collections are approximately $142,000 above budgeted projections. Property tax collections are at 50.5% compared to 51.5% at this point last year. Hotel/Motel collections are $407,995 year to date compared to $412,277 last year. That is 46.1% of the annual Hotel/Motel budgeted income. Prisoner boarding, which is received sporadically from the State of Tennessee, is at $210,795 for four months which is 34% of budget. Ambulance collections were below budget at $248,882. This is due to a backlog of billing from the County’s side as we have had employees out. The backlog is being worked on and should be billed soon. The EMS deficit for the year is $244,732, but I expect that gap to close. Gasoline was budgeted at a $2.25 per gallon and diesel was budgeted at $2.50 per gallon. Currently our weighted average cost for gasoline is $1.88 and diesel is $2.18. Usage is also good compared to budget.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving as your County Mayor. It is a privilege.
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Cumberland County Mayor