Budget committee approves increases for library, volunteer fire departments
Published 10:14 am Thursday, June 2, 2016
The county’s volunteer fire departments and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library could see a boost in their funding from the county this year.
Members of the Carter County Budget committee voted Tuesday night increase funding for those agencies along with some other increases to the budget. While the committee approved the funds, the budget still has other votes to make it through, including an approval by the full Carter County Commission, before it is finalized and adopted.
For the county’s seven volunteer fire departments the committee approved a $5,000 increase in the overall funds. This brings the county funding of the volunteer fire departments to a total of $35,000 which is shared by the seven agencies, equaling out to $5,000 per department.
The committee also approved a $10,000 allocation to the Butler Fire Department at the request of the Carter County Volunteer Firefighters Association. Those funds will be held in reserve pending the approval of an inter local agreement between Carter County and the Butler Fire Department.
In May, the Volunteer Firefighters Association approached the budget committee with the request for funding to work out an agreement between the county and Butler Fire Department to provide better fire protection for residents in a portion of Carter County that borders Watauga Lake and is accessible only by driving into Johnson County in Butler and then driving back into Carter County.
Currently that area is served by the Elk Mills Volunteer Fire Department with assistance from the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department and a mutual aid agreement with the Butler Volunteer Fire Department.
If the new interlocal agreement is established, Butler would become the primary responders to that area and would receive support from Elk Mills and Hampton.
Jason Shaw, of the CCVFA, told the committee in May this would improve the fire protection for those residents and could also lead to a lower cost of insurance on those properties.
The committee approved the increased funding for the Carter County departments as well as the allocation for Butler on a margin of 7-1.
When the budget request for the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library came before the committee, Chairwoman Sonja Culler said she would like to express her thoughts on the matter and passed the gavel over to committee Vice-Chairman Buford Peters, who then took charge of the meeting.
In 2015, the library received $31,587.50 from the county. This year, Library Director Renita Barksdale requested an additional $50,000 in funding, which would have brought the county’s contribution to $81,587.50.
“Carter County uses the library more than the city,” Culler said, adding Barksdale had presented the committee with numbers on patron usage at the library.
Culler then made a motion to approve the requested increase in funding for the library, which was seconded by Committee member Danny Ward.
The motion failed on a vote of 3-5, with Culler, Ward and Ross Garland voting in favor and committee members Peters, Ronnie Trivett, Nancy Brown, Robert Carroll and John Lewis opposing the increase.
Following the failed motion, Peters returned control of the meeting back over to Culler.
Ward then made a motion to approve a total allocation of $60,000 to the library, an increase of $28,412.50 over the current funding. That motion passed on a vote of 6-2 with Lewis and Carroll casting the two dissenting votes.