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Extension agent funding supported

Extension agent funding supported

Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 9:12 pm

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
County officials spent more than half of this morning’s hour-long Budget Committee meeting discussing a funding request from the University of Tennessee Extension Service. The issue was less about Tim Smith’s funding request than it was about concerns over the county’s 2011-12 budget.
Members of the Budget Committee eventually approved a motion made by Ralph Puckett that supports funding for extension agent Charles Adam McCall’s position with the local extension office. The motion was seconded by Polk Glover and approved unanimously by the committee. The request will go before the county commission at its meeting April 18.
Smith’s funding request sparked a lively discussion about the upcoming budget process.
Committee member Jerry Grady voiced his concern that Obion County has been deficit spending for the past several years, and that is a trend he would like to see come to a halt.
He estimated the county is facing a property tax increase that could go as high as 30 cents.
Budget Committee chairman Danny Jowers said the commission is facing having to make “massive cuts” to the 2011-12 budget or increase property taxes, “and that’s just the bottom line.”
“That’s the two choices you’ve got,” Jowers said.
It will be up to the Budget Committee to draft a balanced budget this summer, and the County Commission will have to approve that budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Budget hearings are expected to be scheduled in the coming months, and already the probability of major funding cuts, a property tax increase, or a combination of both has commissioners concerned.
“There’s going to have to be some changes made in non-profit contributions this year,” committee member Dwayne Hensley said during the discussion.
Also during this morning’s Budget Committee meeting, commissioners did get some good news in relation to the county budget. Jowers informed the committee it appears there will not be any major cuts in state education funding or jail reimbursements.
“And that’s good news,” Jowers said.
In other action, the Budget Committee:
• Agreed to have the county’s Finance Committee look into options dealing with the county’s investments. Puckett brought the issue up and said he was concerned about the county’s financial losses through its investments.
• Agreed to a proposal by county Mayor Benny McGuire to establish a seven-member reapportionment committee, which will consist of four county commissioners, a representative of the Obion County Highway Commission, the Obion County School Board and Administrator of Elections Leah Schlager.
McGuire is expected to bring his committee recommendations to the county commission at its April 18 meeting.
The mayor also requested and had approved a request to expand the county’s Insurance Committee from three members to five members. He will also appoint the additional two members to that committee, which will have to be approved by the commission.
• Approved a request from Habitat for Humanity to grant an 18-month tax abatement for properties acquired by the non-profit agency.
“I think this is a reasonable request,” Habitat for Humanity spokesman Jimmy Smith said.
“That makes perfect sense,” Jowers said during the discussion of the request.
County attorney Steve Conley will draft a resolution for the tax abatement and will present the resolution to the commission at its April 18 meeting.
• Was advised that the County Trustee’s office needs a new computer server, which is expected to cost about $8,000. The server will be purchased as an emergency expenditure, which will be presented for approval at the committee’s next meeting.
• Approved a request from Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder to accept a $16,473 Edward Byrne Grant. Vastbinder told the committee the grant is 100 percent reimbursable.
• Approved routine budget transfer requests from the Election Commission and the Solid Waste Board.
• Approved a list of Notary Public applications submitted by County Clerk Vollie Boehms. The list will be forwarded to the commission for its approval in two weeks.
The committee met for 55 minutes in the basement meeting room of the Obion County Courthouse, with the meeting opened in prayer by committee member Sam Sinclair. All members of the committee were present for the meeting, as well as several county commissioners.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 4.4.11

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