By CHRIS MENEES
A county-operated driving school has been given the green light.
The Obion County Commission voted Monday morning to approve a resolution to establish a driver education course for people charged with speeding and other traffic violations in the county.
The vote was 18-0 to adopt the driving school resolution, which also set a fee of $80 for the county-operated course.
The $80 fee levied is the same amount currently being charged by the private firm which provides the service. Under the current program, the county receives $45 and the firm receives $35 of that fee.
Earlier this month, the county’s budget committee voted to send a resolution on a county-operated driving school to the full county commission for a vote. The possibility of Obion County operating its own driving school to generate more revenue was mentioned last month when the budget committee held its first budget hearing of the next fiscal year.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire said Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder and Obion County Circuit Court Clerk Harry Johnson worked out details for having a certified instructor and labor to staff the school. He said the sheriff plans to have some employees certified to teach the school in the future.
It was noted that while anyone can start a driving school and the county can’t be the only one to offer the service, county personnel are the only ones who have access to the courthouse to allow people inside for a school. McGuire said since the county already provides the space for the class and security, it seems logical for the county to offer the service itself.
In other action during Monday’s hour-long meeting, opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and with prayer led by Dr. Ray Newcomb, interim pastor of Second Baptist Church in Union City, the commission:
• Honored recently-retired Obion County mayor’s office administrative assistant Kay Calhoun of Troy for her many years of dedicated service to the county. She worked with five different county mayors during 41 years of service to Obion County and retired last month to enjoy more time with her children and grandchildren.
She received a plaque presented by McGuire and a framed state House of Representatives resolution presented by state Rep. Bill Sanderson. (See related photo, above.)
McGuire said Mrs. Calhoun was “a great asset” to the county and several county commissioners echoed that sentiment. She was lauded for her strong work ethic and accuracy over the years.
“Kay has been the rock of our commission,” commissioner Danny Jowers, a former budget committee chairman, said.
Commissioner Terry Roberts said he has known Mrs. Calhoun both personally and professionally and called her “one of the finest ladies I’ve ever known.” Commissioner Norma Fowler said Mrs. Calhoun is one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to the county’s operations.
After receiving a standing ovation from the commission, Mrs. Calhoun expressed her appreciation to the county leaders.
“I love the work I’ve done,” she said.
Mrs. Calhoun’s position has been filled by Laura Thomason of Obion, also a longtime employee of the county mayor’s office who will mark 26 years of service in July.
• Voted 18-0 to approve a resolution to adopt a local litigation tax (jail tax) beginning July 1 on all court cases for the purpose of improvements at the jail and courthouse. The county budget committee recently recommended reinstatement of the jail tax to fund an update of the air conditioning at the jail.
A litigation tax was adopted by the county commission in September 2000 specifically for jail or workhouse construction, upgrades or debt retirement. It set a tax of $10 per case on litigation in all civil and criminal cases instituted in the county, other than those instituted in municipal courts, to help pay for the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex opened in November 1998. The jail note was paid in full May 1, 2012, but budget committee members have since discussed the need for the tax to be reinstated for jail and courthouse improvements.
The county’s budget committee voted at a budget hearing last month for a trio of funding options to be studied — the return of the jail litigation tax and a county-operated driving school, as well as a county-operated probation program.
• Approved by an 18-0 vote a resolution to impose an additional $5 on the privilege tax on litigation in all civil and criminal cases for the purpose of funding courtroom security, increasing the current tax from $20 to $25.
• Received a brief update on the past legislative session from Sanderson, who expressed appreciation to commissioners for their efforts and also answered some questions from them.
• Approved two resolutions to amend the General Purpose School Fund to include certain expenditures, action taken to maintain sound budgeting practices.
• Approved a resolution to amend the General Fund in the jail category to reflect insurance increases.
• Approved a resolution to authorize submission of an application for a litter and trash collecting grant for the 2013-14 fiscal year from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
• Approved a request to release the delinquent county property taxes for 2011.
• Approved a resolution to adopt a continuing budget and tax rate for the fiscal year beginning July 1 until a new county budget is approved for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Commissioner Jerry Grady, chairman of the county’s budget committee, said work is progressing on next year’s budget and things are going smoothly so far. He said it is hoped the proposed budget can be completed by the end of June and he said all commissioners are welcome to attend budget committee meetings.
The budget committee’s next budget hearing is scheduled for today at 5 p.m. in the chancery courtroom at the courthouse.
• Approved several appointments to boards or committees, including Mary Ann Hime and Mike Cox to the library board; Jim Thorpe to the highway board from District 1; Janice Lacewell, Dr. Bobby Williams, Tracey Batey, Ernest Daniels, Timmy Gant, the Rev. Terry Council and Sonny Yarborough to the nursing home board; attorney John Miles to the newly-formed audit committee; and Art Chivers and McGuire to the Western Tennessee Railroad Authority.
• Approved 15 notary public applications.
• Was informed the county’s finance committee recently renewed a note with the industrial board. It will be reviewed again in the fall.
County commissioners Jim Bondurant, Kenneth Cheatham and Dwayne Hensley were absent from Monday’s session.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.21.13