Direction sought for County Park and Rec

Published 11:35 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
“What is our authority and what are our limitations?”
That’s the question Carter County Park and Rec board chairman Ken Gough posed to the Carter County Financial Management Committee on Monday.
Gough was seeking clarity and direction on funding requests generated by the voluntary board that manages the parks and recreation group including projects that could total more than $1 million.
“We are not an outside agency and neither are we a department,” Gough said.
When the Carter County Park and Rec board was established in 2015, it had about $11,000 in funds available.
Gough said board members believed any unused funds would roll over into subsequent years’ budgets. However, Finance Director Carolyn Watson has since informed the group that funds do not roll over.
The Park and Rec is funded by funds that come available to an extent as the commission can give according to Committee Chairman Brad Johnson. The fiscal year total for 2021-2022 is $165,000.
The questions about financial authority carry over to purchasing procedures, such as creating purchase orders.
“(Gough) is having issues with the fact that only county employees and department heads can write PO’s,” said  Austin Jaynes, vice chairman of the committee. “They don’t have the authority to do that, so he is trying to figure out where the authority lies (so)  that he can get someone in place to do that for him. That’s the problem.”
Watson said all PO’s needed to be written by Chris Schuettler, director of planning and zoning. Doing so should eliminate any problems moving forward, she said.
While that clarified a portion of the process, questions about the role of the parks and rec board remain.
“We are asking a volunteer board to implement $1 million projects. We have the watershed bike trails, the Tweetsie Trail extension, and Gap Creek Park. If Carter County wants to be a tourism destination and implement these values to our county, we have got to do something for our board. These projects are very big in our county right now so where do we want these projects to go? We have to decide what our narrative is,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby.
Gough was satisfied with the answer provided and stated that the process will be followed going forth with Schuettler writing the purchase orders.

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