Financial Management Committee selects Byrd as county finance director
Published 11:20 am Monday, October 5, 2015
Members of the Carter County Commission’s Financial Management Committee unanimously selected Christa Byrd to serve as Carter County’s new finance director Friday.
Byrd, who was previously the deputy director, has served as the interim director since Aug. 13 when Ingrid Deloach, the previous director, resigned to take a position in Sullivan County.
The search for the new director began shortly after Deloach tendered her resignation in July with the county advertising the vacant position.
A total of 28 applicants applied for the finance director position. The Financial Management committee, which oversees the hiring of the county’s finance director, whittled the pool down to a field of eight candidates and then brought them in for interviews. Each applicant was given a one-hour time block to introduce themselves to the committee and answer questions from the members.
Following the interviews, the committee narrowed the field once again — this time to two finalists.
Of those two, Byrd was clearly the one favored by members of the committee on Friday morning.
Committee Chairman Ray Lyons said following the direction of the committee he had done some research into the candidates and some of what he had learned was not pretty.
The other finalist is currently employed in another Tennessee County and Lyons said he had searched into the applicant’s history and reputation there.
“I have a contact within that system and I was told ‘You do not want to hire this man,’” Lyons said.
Committee member Charles Von Cannon said he, too, had some research and while he did find some negatives about the other candidate he had found some positive aspects as well.
“I don’t think we need to bring out dirty laundry on anybody, on any candidate,” Committee member Danny Ward told the group.
Ward then called for a vote by the committee, asking them to cast their ballot for their choice for the position. All seven committee members cast their votes for Byrd.
The group then unanimously voted to make a recommendation to full commission, which sets the pay rate for the position, that Byrd’s annual salary be set at $62,606.96, which is what Deloach’s salary was at the time of her resignation.
After the votes, Byrd was called back into the meeting and congratulated.
“I thank you all for your support and your vote of confidence,” she told the committee.
Carter County Road Superintendant Roger Colbaugh, who serves on the committee, updated the group about the status of a bridge in Roan Mountain recently closed by order of the state due to safety concern.
“The structure itself is in pretty fair condition except for the bridge slap itself,” Colbaugh said.
The bridge is located on Old Railroad Grade Road and is one of only two steel bridges left in the county. Once a bridge for the famed Tweetsie Railroad, the bridge was later converted as a highway bridge after the train stopped running.
The deck of the bridge is in bad shape, Colbaugh said. Underneath the deck are wooden timbers, some of which are decaying and others have fallen from the bridge into the Doe River below.
“I don’t know for sure when that deck was built,” Colbaugh said. “I would say it was in the 50’s when they converted it over from a railroad to a highway bridge.”
The closure of the bridge has landlocked four property owners, but Colbaugh said none of the properties are full-time residences.
There are two possible avenues the county can pursue to restore access to those property owners, Colbaugh said.
One is what he called a “run around” that would redirect traffic to a different crossing point on the Doe River where the highway department would construct low-water crossing pipe bridge. That plan would come with an estimated price tag of $30,000-$40,000 and would require a permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Additionally, Colbaugh said, because the construct would involve the river, the county would have to work with not only TDEC but the Army Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to make sure the new river crossing complied with all federal and state regulations.
The second plan would be to repair the bridge by installing a new bridge deck. That project would come with an estimated price tag of $120,000-$130,000 but would extend the life of the bridge by an additional 30-40 years.
Repairing a bridge would be a permanent solution to the problem while the run around and new river crossing would only be a temporary fix.
Colbaugh recommended the county repair the bridge deck, but said the full Commission would have to vote to approve him using moneys from the Highway Department’s emergency fund to complete the work.
In other business, the committee voted to approve an increase to the limits on spending that require county departments to seek quotes and bids.
Byrd informed the group that the state had recently raised their bid requirement level to $25,000 and this gave the county the opportunity to raise their’s to the same level.
The committee unanimously approved setting the county’s bid limit at $25,000 and the quote limit to $10,000.