Budget and Nominating Committee meets in live session

Published 2:31 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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In what seemed to resemble a piece of normalcy, the Carter County Budget and Nominating Committee met at the Carter County Courthouse on Monday in what is hoped to be a move back toward conducting meetings in person after hosting several via Zoom.

The microphones and speakers weren’t working which provided some difficulty for Commissioner Charles VonCannon in hearing the discussions that were conducted during the meeting.

The first piece of business by the Budget Committee was to unanimously approve giving the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department a one-time $2,000 payment toward installing a Trash Trout litter collection system where the department felt that the system would work the best.

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That money would come from the county’s unassigned fund balance.

While on the subject of the Trash Trout system, the Committee also authorized $2,000 to be given to the Carter County Parks and Recreation to have a system installed below the Highway 143 bridge where the community park is located.

Once again the funds would come from the county’s unassigned fund balance.

The committee then proceeded to discuss the possibility of purchasing the old Chamber of Commerce building which would be an agreement between the city and county.

Mayor Patty Woodby shared that with office space running out, the building could possibly be used for that purpose.

“Why are we spending money on something like that when we have plenty of space at the Workforce Development building,” questioned Commissioner VonCannon.

Woodby further advised that from what she understood that the structure underneath is dry but the building has had nothing done to it stating that current Chamber director Joy McCray really didn’t have anything as far as reports of work done to the building when she arrived a short while back.

Commissioner Aaron Frazier made the motion to entertain quotes for inspection of the structure as well as for black mold with the Committee voting 7-1 to accept the motion with VonCannon casting the lone no vote.

Carter County Finance Director Brad Burke then addressed some sales tax issues including an error in tax collections by the state which resulted in the Dollar General Store on Highway 19-E in Elizabethton being inadvertently switched from the city to the county by the state resulting in the error.

To make up for the mistake, the county is looking at having to pay the city $45,477.66 which resulted from the error in reporting.

Also, a similar issue with the Stateline Drive-In will be negotiated between the two governing bodies.

The board also approved to send to the full commission a recommendation to stop the split of the 18 percent ADA (Average Daily Attendance) rate of the collection of sales tax that has been done since 2008 when the commission at that time passed a resolution to do so with some questionable wording.

Currently, the county receives 65 percent of the 18 percent with the city schools getting 33.61 percent and Johnson City schools receiving approximately 1.23 percent.

Burke presented four options for the Budget Committee to consider with Board Chair Austin Jaynes swapping places with Tony Garland to make the motion for the county to retain the entire 18 percent beginning on July 1, 2021.

The motion carried in a 5-3 vote with Commissioners Garland, Travis Hill, and Robin McKamey voting no.

“I don’t agree with taking $80,000 from the city schools because we have several students from the county,” said McKamey.

Commissioner Jaynes countered by saying, “You also charge tuition to those students and get the BEP money from the state for each county student that the county doesn’t receive.”

Commissioner Frazier was the deciding vote initially passing on the first roll call and taking a few moments to seriously consider the motion before casting a yes vote.

In other business, the Committee voted to move $55,000 from Capital Outlay to the Architecture line to cover work at the Workforce Development building. A survey has already been completed which costs $1,600.

Also, the committee considered appropriating $132,136.52 for the purchase of two vehicles to replace two aging vehicles at the Carter County Highway Department from the Care Funds.

As the motion was coming to a vote, Commissioner Hill made a motion to table the item until the county receives federal money in the coming month to see if that money could be used instead of using the Care Funds.

Burke was asked about the amount of money the county could expect and he responded that it was estimated that the county would receive over $11,000,000.

Hill said that he didn’t foresee that the money wouldn’t be made available for the purchase of the two vehicles.

County Highway Department Superintendent Roger Colbaugh was asked how many trucks needed to be replaced to which he responded six.

Chairman Jaynes said it could be a possibility that if the county received those types of federal funds, that it might be possible to purchase all six.

The vote to table the motion to purchase was 4-2 with one pass.