Tough decisions await county budget officials

Tough decisions await county budget officials

Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 11:04 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The Obion County Bud-get Committee knows some tough decisions lie ahead in 2011.
The committee met Mon-day morning at the Obion County Courthouse to handle a number of budget matters and recommend several items for the Obion County Commission’s Jan-uary session.
One of the items the committee recommended to place on the full com-mission’s agenda for its Jan. 18 session is appointments to various county boards and committees — including the Budget Committee. The commission meeting will be held one day late due to the Jan. 17 observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said the Budget Committee needs to continue to be comprised of the same seven commis-sioners currently serving because their experience will be needed in drafting next year’s budget. With the current economy, he said this is a very important year budget-wise.
The committee currently includes commissioners Danny Jowers, Dwayne Hensley, Allen Nohsey, Polk Glover, Ralph Puckett, Jerry Grady and Sam Sinclair Jr., with Jowers serving as chairman.
Jowers said the committee should “have a handle” on the budget outlook by March and be able to make a good estimate about the coming fiscal year. The committee and the commission do not meet in February.
Hensley noted it has been a number of years since there was any tax increase and Jowers said there are some untouched budget line items — which he called “sacred cows” — that need to be examined. Jowers also said when the price of gasoline increases, so does everything else.
Jowers said the committee members should be pre-warned that there will be some “tough decisions” and lengthy budget meetings in the months ahead.
In other action during Monday’s meeting, which was opened with prayer led by Hensley, the Budget Committee:
• Was told by county clerk Vollie Boehms that she has decided not to pursue a roll call voting system at this time, due to the cost. She told commissioners she will call the roll differently from now on during commission meetings, a response to earlier concerns about it always being called by districts in the same order.
• Heard a status report on the Interlocal Agreement for County-Wide Fire Protection from McGuire. (Editor’s note: A story focusing solely on the update was published in Monday’s edition of The Messenger.)
• Voted to recommend to the commission the waste pickup and hauling agreements for the county’s rural residents. The agreements are with Barker Brothers and Alan’s Industrial Waste Services, both of which provide the service to rural residents, depending upon location.
The agreements include a new regular rate of $17.92 per month, up from $17.14; a new senior citizen rate (for customers ages 62 and older) of $13.18 per month, up from $12.90; and an additional cart rate of $8 per month for both regular and senior citizen rates.
Obion County Solid Waste director Mike Cary said many county residents do not realize a discounted senior citizen rate is available on request for customers ages 62 and older. McGuire asked if a reminder could be printed on the companies’ bills when they are mailed out.
• Approved several in-house line-item transfers for various departments, including a $500 transfer for the Solid Waste Fund; a $6,000 transfer for the sheriff’s department’s Drug Fund for the payment of legal fees in the radio frequency re-banding; transfers for the budgets of the sheriff’s department and jail for vacation time which was sold back by employees in an effort to keep the departments running at full shift rather than being short-staffed; a $175 transfer for the assessor of property for audit services; and a $392 transfer for the county commission to mark an increase in some professional dues.
• Voted to recommend to the commission a trio of resolutions to amend funds, including a $600 amendment to the Solid Waste Fund to cover one-time payroll merit supplements approved by the commission in November; an $850 amendment to the County General Fund (Health Department) for new expenses in this fiscal year’s budget; and a $19,900 amendment to the County General Fund to cover the payroll merit supplements approved for all county employees, with the exception of nursing home employees.
• Agreed to recommend to the commission a resolution to enter into an agreement to authorize West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative Corp. Inc. right-of-way use of county property, roads and alleys for construction of a fiber optic network system. McGuire said the agreement only affects Yorkville Phone System customers in the Mason Hall area, adding it has already been approved by the Obion County Highway Commission.
• Voted to recommend to the commission a proposal to donate the Goodyear access road to the City of Union City. McGuire said the road was given to Obion County in October 1978 and he proposed giving it to the city since the city owns property on both sides of the road.
• Agreed to recommend to the commission several changes to the county’s road map, including extending Deer Haven and McDonald roads and deleting the Goodyear access road, South Caudle Road and a portion of Mitchell Road.
• Voted to recommend employee recognition of Linda Breeden, who recently retired from the Circuit Court clerk’s office.
• Agreed to decline an offer for the county to take over part of an old cemetery at Troy and authorized the county attorney to send a letter to that effect. McGuire said the owner, who lives in Memphis, wanted to give the county $5,000 for perpetual care of the cemetery, but the county does not perform cemetery upkeep.
• Voted to place on the commission agenda the discussion of a problem with the roof leaking at the Obion County Health Department. McGuire said new duct work was recently installed and cracks resulted when workers walked on the 141⁄2-year-old roof, with water now running down the walls. He said he does not yet know what portion the state and insurance will pay, but said an initial estimate is nearly $34,000 for repairs.
• Learned there has been a 3.6 percent increase in the cost of autopsies performed by Forensic Medical Management Services PLC due to an increase in the company’s operating costs. The price changed from $1,400 to $1,450 per autopsy effective Jan. 1.
• Approved placing notary public applications on the commission’s agenda.
• Learned the process of district reapportionment should begin soon. The county can have up to 25 commissioners, according to McGuire, and currently has 21 commissioners from seven different districts.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 1.4.11

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