Crossville Mayor James Mayberry and I traveled to Nashville recently to meet with State Senate and House leadership. A few other Mayors from the Upper Cumberland were in attendance as well. It was an informal opportunity for us to discuss the needs of Cumberland County, such as broadband access, road projects, getting a tenant on the new industrial pad, and retail development.
I have been privileged to speak at several events in the last month as well, including the Raising Hope in the Community event recently held by the Horizon Initiative at the Palace Theatre. Melissa Newman was the keynote speaker at the event. She is the director of regional stewardship at Eastern Kentucky University and has been studying how increasing community hope can help impact communities. I was also able to speak to the Friends of the Art Circle Public Library. We talked about how local government functions and some of the issues we are working on for our community.
I, along with several other county leaders, recently took a class on the Incident Command System (ICS). It was an overview for executives and senior officials aimed at describing the various ways ICS can be applied, as well as the role of an executive during an incident. An incident is described as an occurrence, caused by either human or natural phenomena, that requires response actions to prevent or minimize loss of life, or damage to property and/or the environment. I want the thank our EMA Director Rick Williams for leading the class.
The February 19th meeting of the full County Commission was held with all Commissioners in attendance. Four citizens spoke to the Commission to address the poor broadband access in large parts of the county. I agree with their points and as you have probably read, I am working to try and make sure Cumberland County gets better broadband access. We deserve better. Chance Bow also invited everyone to the SMHS FFA Chili Supper and Auction. It will be held February 22 at 6:00 PM at the Community Complex. The Grandview Pickers will provide entertainment. The cost is only $7 per person. I have my tickets, do you?
The following resolutions were approved (resolution sponsor in parenthesis):
RESOLUTION 02-2019-1 Regulating Courthouse Lawn and War Memorial Park usage (Kyle Davis). The issue of Courthouse Lawn and War Memorial Park usage has been discussed a lot recently. In 2008, the Building and Grounds Committee passed language concerning the use of the grounds, but it was never approved by the full County Commission. This resolution contained that language, as well as added a ban on signs being placed on the grounds. These signs can create a distraction to drivers which endangers both the drivers and pedestrians. After much discussion, the resolution was approved 15-2-1 with Commissioners Speich and MacLeod voting against, and Commissioner Threet passing.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-2 To request campaign vehicles not park in front of the Courthouse (Stone). This resolution requested the Administrator of Elections to place a request in political candidate packages stating: “As a courtesy, please do not park campaign vehicles in front of the Courthouse. Please reserve those parking spaces for voters and those with Courthouse business.” The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-3 To amend the November 19, 2018 version of the Cumberland County Commission Rules (Hyder). In a unanimous vote, the Commission rules were amended to remove the requirement to use a recording device during committee meetings. It was found that this is not a requirement by the State of Tennessee as was previously believed. The recording equipment used had proven ineffective as well. Committee meeting agendas and approved minutes will be placed on the County website (www.cumberlandcountytn.gov).
RESOLUTION 02-2019-4 Authorizing the issuance of Interest Bearing General Obligation Capital Outlay Notes, Series 2019 of Cumberland County, Tennessee, in an aggregate principal amount of not to exceed nine hundred twenty-eight thousand five hundred dollars ($928,500); making provision for the issuance, sale and payment of said notes, proceeds therefrom; and providing for the levy of tax for the payment of principal thereof, premium, if any, and interest thereon. This resolution is an accounting exercise required to allow the County to use money from the Debt Service Fund Balance on capital expenses. This is a good way to make purchases of one-time capital needs without taking an unnecessary draw down on the General Fund Balance. The resolution was approved 18-0.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-5 Budget Amendment, General Fund, Fire Department, $1,600.00 (Hyder). Middle Tennessee Natural Gas (MTNG) made a $1,600 donation to help the Cumberland County Fire Department improve fire safety via education and by providing smoke alarms to eligible households. The resolution was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-6 Budget Amendment, Drug Control Fund, Sheriff’s Department, Drug Enforcement, $34,000.00 (Blalock). This resolution allowed the Sheriff to use Drug Control Funds to purchase a vehicle for use in drug control and eradication. The resolution was approved 18-0.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-7 Budget Amendment, General Purpose School Fund, $150,000.00 (Wilson). The Board of Education (BOE) was awarded the District Priority School Improvement Federal Grant. This resolution accepted the money into the BOE budget and was approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-8 Regulating easement returns (Kyle Davis). The return of unneeded easements has become a topic of interest of late. This resolution set the guidelines for approval, which includes:
- When appropriate, a title review should be conducted to determine the terms of the easement.
- The Property Assessor should be consulted to help determine the value of the property with and without the easement.
- The County Mayor, Regional Planning Commission, and Road Department should be consulted to ensure return of the easement will not cause access issues to other properties and to ensure the easement will not be more important to county needs in the future.
- Adjacent property owners should be contacted to ensure easement return does not adversely affect other properties.
- The easement should be fully on the applicant’s property. If not, surrounding landowners should be given equal opportunity to purchase the portion of the easement on their property.
- The value of the easement shall be determined based on all factors and mitigating circumstances. The value placed on the easement should not exceed costs to the county.
The resolution was approved 18-0.
RESOLUTION 02-2019-9 To release county owned right-of-way to property owner (Kyle Davis). The previous resolution paved the way for an easement to be returned to two property owners on Deep Draw Road as all the previously described steps had been followed. The easement was to be used for a bridge that would cost millions to build. The Highway Department declared there are no current or future plans for construction. The resolution was approved unanimously.
Sales tax collections through January were $4,857,401. The January receipts were $779,663 which is $11,132 above budget. For the year, collections are approximately $142,309 above budgeted projections. Property tax collections are at 62.2% compared to 62.3% at this point last year. Hotel/Motel collections are $454,223 year to date compared to $463,175 last year. That is 51.3% of the annual Hotel/Motel budgeted income compared to 57.2% last year. Prisoner boarding, which is received sporadically from the State of Tennessee, is at $335,790 for six months which is 54.2% of budget. Ambulance collections were below budget at $232,347. This is due to a backlog of billing from the County’s side as we have had employees out with sickness, vacation, and holiday leave. The backlog is closing and should be caught up within the next few weeks. The EMS deficit for the year is $345,718 but that gap will 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 $1.81 and diesel is $2.15. Usage is also in line with budgeted projections.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving as your County Mayor. It is a privilege.
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Cumberland County Mayor