Budget officials ponder future of litigation tax

Budget officials ponder future of litigation tax
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The Obion County Law Enforcement Complex will be paid off this year.
At its session Monday, the Obion County Budget Committee learned the jail note will be paid in full May 1 — leaving county commissioners to decide the fate of a litigation tax levied in September 2000 specifically for jail or workhouse construction, upgrades or debt retire-ment.
The Obion County Law Enforcement Complex opened in November 1998.
The litigation tax adopted by the county commission Sept. 18, 2000, set a tax of $10 per case on litigation in all civil and criminal cases instituted in Obion County, other than those instituted in municipal courts.
Budget committee chairman Danny Jowers said even though the jail will be paid off this year, the facility will still have equipment to be replaced and ongoing expenses.
Commissioner Ralph Puckett made a motion to keep the litigation tax in place for future use at the jail, prompting discussion that included a request from Obion County Juvenile Judge Sam Nailling. He asked commissioners to consider taking the litiga-tion tax monies from cases strictly involving juvenile offenders and placing them in reserve for future needs in housing juvenile offenders.
Jowers said long-range plans could include looking at the possibility of juvenile detention housing in the county in the future, which could involve other counties paying to have juvenile offenders housed here.
Commissioner Richard Arnold made a motion to amend the original motion to allow Nailling to present his proposal to the full county commission when it convenes March 19 at 9 a.m. at the Obion County Public Library.
Budget committee mem-bers approved the amend-ment to pull out the $10 per case derived from juvenile offenders to be put in reserve for juvenile detention purposes and then approved recommending to the full commission that the litigation tax, excluding those specifically involving juveniles, continue for the jail fund.
Arnold said the county owes Sheriff Jerry Vast-binder “a debt of gratitude” for how well he has managed the jail and payment of its debt.
In other action during Monday evening’s meeting, which was opened with prayer led by commissioner Sam Sinclair, the budget committee:
• Welcomed new budget committee members Richard Arnold and Terry Roberts, who replaced former members Polk Glover and Dwayne Hensley. Sinclair was later elected vice chairman of the committee.
• Agreed to forward to the county commission a Tennessee Department of Transportation proposal for a project for U.S. 45 West from near Allie Campbell Road to U.S. 51, which Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said is “a housekeeping matter.”
• Voted to recommend rescinding a previous motion to place proceeds from the highway department’s surplus equipment auctions and sales into the county’s General Fund. The action came after commissioners received an opinion from a legal consultant with the County Technical Assistance Service.
The consultant said it was her opinion that proceeds from the sale of surplus highway property which was purchased with highway funds must be deposited in the highway fund for continued use by the highway department.
• Approved forwarding to the full commission the second reading of a resolution to remove law enforcement powers from the county’s constables. The first reading was heard at the commission’s January session.
In January, the commission also approved a resolution which set the county’s number of constables at seven — one constable from each of the seven county commission districts.
• Approved a request to transfer funds within the sheriff’s department budget, from one line item to another, for salary increases.
• Voted to forward to the commission a resolution to amend the county General Fund in the amount of $16,627 to reflect an adjustment to the current budget for two revenue items received after the last fiscal year ended.
• Approved forwarding to the commission a resolution authorizing the issuance of an equipment and courthouse roof capital outlay note, not to exceed $150,000, to purchase law enforcement equipment, replace the courthouse roof and purchase computers, copiers and a water heater for various county offices. The action will result in the funds being taken out of debt service rather than the General Fund.
In related action, the committee also voted to forward to the commission a resolution to amend the General Fund pertaining to the capital outlay note.
• Agreed to forward to the full commission a resolution to amend the inter-departmental agreement previously approved between the county and the Obion County Board of Education for funding the construction of the vocational training facilities. It reflects changes in circumstances and is only for one fiscal year.
• Voted to place on the commission agenda the consideration of landfill agreements between the county and ECM of Ridgely LLC and between the county and Northwest Disposal Corp. The contracts were described as being similar to what the county previously had in place. McGuire said he feels those involved in the lengthy contract process secured what is best for the county.
• Approved placing a number of board and committee appointments on the commission’s agenda, as well as notary public applications to be considered for approval.
• Approved a request from county clerk Vollie Boehms to be placed on the commission agenda to discuss rural fire subscriptions.
• Learned from Jowers that meetings are being scheduled as the budget committee begins the budget process for the next fiscal year. He said he would like to have two meetings in April and one in May in order to have a budget ready for the commission’s June term and “ready to roll” in July.
The budget hearing dates mentioned include April 9 at 9 a.m. and April 17 at 6 p.m., with the May date pending. Jowers said he will ask all elected officials to have their budgets ready by the April 17 meeting and he said they have done a great job in keeping expenditures down.
Published in The Messenger 3.6.12

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