Committee approves transfer from road department emergency fund balance

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

County Budget Graphic
The Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission voted Monday evening to approve a request by Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh to move $632,000 from his fund balance in order to balance this year’s budget.
Colbaugh, at the May 28 committee meeting, had asked for 8 cents more on the tax rate to balance the budget rather than take it from his emergency fund. At that time, Ingrid Deloach, County Budget Director, explained that in the past the County Commission allowed the previous road superintendent, Jack Perkins, to take money out of the department’s fund balance to cover operating expenses. This created a problem with the department’s funding and depleted the emergency fund balance, she explained.
Deloach cautioned against using the fund balance for operating expenses, noting that next year Colbaugh’s budget will be $632,000 short.
Colbaugh requested the money be transferred to his department’s asphalt fund in order to repave three roads – the Stateline Road, Cedar Grove Road and a portion of the Old Bristol Highway. He explained that refunds received from the Tennessee Highway Department and the federal government for these projects will go back into his reserve fund. “If we do these projects, we will get reimbursed for them,” Colbaugh said.
“We are trying to be conservative and change operations at the highway department to be more efficient,” Colbaugh said, emphasizing that he needed the $632,000 to purchase asphalt.
“We would like to repave some of our worst county roads and do some bridge work, but if we don’t have the funds we can’t do it,” he said.
Commissioner Ronnie Trivette made the motion to approve the transfer of funds, which was seconded by Commissioner Robert Carroll. Commissioners Sonja Culler, Ross Garland, and Buford Peters voted “no” on the funds transfer request.
In other action the committee approved a transfer of funds in the County Mayor’s budget which will allow the Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter to hire a full-time custodian at $10 an hour plus benefits. The motion was approved on the condition that the city pay half of the costs, which will amount to around $10,000.
Mayor Leon Humphrey made the request, noting that the shelter in addition to its director has only two other full-time employees. He said the cleaning responsibilities are more than the three people can do. “They spend most of the morning removing litter and waste from the cages and kennels and hosing them down. It is a huge job, and another person is needed not only to help do the work, but to supervise inmates and mow the grounds,” the mayor said. He proposed taking $10,000 from the Building and Grounds line item and applying it to “other” salaries and wages. The $10,000 would be paired with $12,000 in reserves in addition to the $9,000 plus from the city for its share.
“The shelter has been open for a year and a half, and we need to take care of it,” Humphrey allowed.
The committee also approved a number of line item transfers in the budget including $49,216.07 in the Sheriff’s Department reserve account to upgrade the department’s computer server and to purchase six additional computers.
Approval was also granted for a line item transfer in the department’s budget to purchase one new litter truck.

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