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Commission discusses budget amendments, animal shelter

BY NIC MILLER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
The Carter County board of commissioners met on Monday evening in their regular scheduled June meeting, and as usual, many important topics involving the community in the months moving forward were discussed.

Public comments from citizens who attended the meeting were one of the first items on the night’s agenda and one main point that was discussed revolved around the Carter County Sheriff’s Office and a retention program that could better the force.

Tonya Range with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department informed the commission that there is a problem with the agency keeping law enforcement officers.

“We are twenty officers down in terms of corrections, we lack four school resource officers, and we are down a few patrol officers as well.”

There was also a mention of one aspect that could be the reason for the shortage of deputies in Carter County – a lack of retention.

Range mentioned that there were not many rewards for those that have been serving the community as a deputy for a long period of time and that an incentive for those who have put in more hours than most should be incentivized for their work and dedication.

Another topic that was a large portion of the June Meeting revolved around the future of the Carter County Animal Shelter and how the county would handle the budget for the shelter in the next year.

After discussing amendments to the county commission’s budget, Commissioner Austin Jaynes who serves as the Budget Chairman was presented with a motion to give the shelter $225,000 while also letting them keep all donations they would receive as well as revenue collected from sales.

Commissioner Gary Bailey brought the motion before the board, and it was a topic in which he was adamant about, saying “All that we are doing is setting the wheels in motion. If they become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, they will be able to keep their money anyway.”

During the hour-long discussion about the forthcoming budget of the shelter, many pieces of information such as the cost of the animal control officer along with other expenses were brought to light.

The cost of an animal control officer, a needed service in the community, is an annual expense of $69,000 with salary and other benefits such as insurance and vehicle-related expenses.

It was a topic that drew high tensions and emotions, but in the end, things were brought to a screeching halt when county attorney Josh Hardin informed the board that a decision regarding a vote on changes to the budget could not occur during the meeting.

Harden informed the commissioners saying, “There’s a process by which the budget committee has their hearings, they present a recommended budget, there is a public hearing, and then you all can make amendments to that budget.

“That is not tonight. This is not the appropriate time to be voting on any department’s budget.”

Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby also brought forth a very special proclamation during the June meeting, declaring the date of the meeting, June 21st, 2021 to be a time to celebrate Tennessee becoming the 16th state in the United States of America 225 years ago.

Mayor Woodby prefaced the proclamation by highlighting some of the best things about the state and its history, whether it was the Watauga Association or Overmountain men fighting for freedom from Great Britain, or the enjoyable products that the volunteer state has produced such as Moon Pie and Mountain Dew.

Mayor Woodby also made sure to highlight some of the most notable people who have come from the tri-star state.

Some of the most renowned Tennesseans include former presidents of the United States Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and James K. Polk along with beloved celebrities such as Morgan Freeman and Dolly Parton.

The Carter County Commission will meet again on July 8th at 6 pm for a budget workshop. The Commission will be holding its public hearing on the budget on Monday, July 19th at 5 pm at the Carter County Courthouse.