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Dandridge, Tennessee

April 18, 2011 www.jeffersoncountypost.com

Jefferson County Commission 
Discuss School Board's
The Jefferson County Commission held its Regular Quarterly Work Session on Monday, April 11, 2011, at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse. The meeting was called to order by Commission Chairman Mills.
Minutes and Corrections to the Minutes and Agenda were unanimously approved. 
Chairman Mills asked that Elder Tax Relief Committee Chairman, Doug Goddard, be allowed to address the commission first, due to another obligation. Committee Chair Goddard stated that the Elder Tax Relief Committee had met and was in the process of gathering information, before giving a recommendation to the full commission. He said that some members of the committee, himself included, had concerns about placing the tax burden on young families. Although the legislature did give counties the option of a property tax freeze for the elderly, only a handful of counties have exercised the option. Most of the counties that did instigate the freeze have a strong industrial base, unlike Jefferson County. Goddard and some members of the committee are concerned about abuse of the property tax freeze. While there is a income level attached to the freeze, many seniors who are not financially strapped would meet the guidelines. Net worth is not taken into account, only incoming money. Expensive lake property and upscale homes are not exempt from the tax freeze if the owner meets the income per year criteria. Chairman Goddard stated that other options may be better suited to Jefferson County. He acknowledged that some members of the committee are in favor of the property tax freeze, and others have some reservations. Jefferson County does have low income tax relief in place, however it does not freeze the property tax.
Citizen Chuck Haynes, of C&K Equipment Company (Knoxville), came before the commission to question the bidding process in Jefferson County. Haynes stated that he had submitted a bid for Landfill equipment and felt that the bidding process was questionable. He was upset that his bid was shown to a competitor, at the bid opening. He also questioned why his bid was not selected, as he felt that it was the better bid. Jefferson County Finance Director, Darrell Helton, stated that the bid was opened in the appropriate manner and was not for comparable equipment. He said that sealed bids are public record after they are opened and can be shown. Haynes said that he had never had that happen before and found it inappropriate. He also stated that the bid was not awarded that day. Helton reasserted that nothing improper happened and that he stood behind the process used. According to the county attorney and Mayor Alan Palmieri, bids are subject to the open meetings act. The County Commission requested information on the bidding process and requested the bid specifications for this particular bid.
Citizen Mike Underwood spoke on the number of teacher and students that currently occupy schools. He questioned the numbers and the need for more space.
Mayor Palmieri addressed the commission about a desire expressed by some commissioner to have a website to post ideas. Due to the numbers in the last census count, the county will need to look at redistricting, soon. Palmieri also stated that the EMS-E911-EMA situation was reaching critical stage. E911 is located in Jefferson City and will loose their current housing soon. He had requested non-binding authority to bring plans before the commission to build a new structure that would house all three departments in one location. That would eliminate the need for the ambulance substation in New Market, which is in disrepair. The property for the structure has been donated by Mercy Hospital. The location is adjacent to the hospital. 1.6 million of additional funding would be needed to build the structure. The county already has a 1.1 million capitol outlay note that is designated for a E911 center.
Commissioner Robert Tucker requested that the Sheriff and the Facilities and Safety Director meet and iron out budget issues that were brought before the budget committee. Both parties said that they would address the topic before the next meeting.
Director of School, Dr, Charles Edmonds, told the commission that he hopes to get on city sewer for the newly constructed schools. He stated that he did not know if Dandridge would agree because it is outside the growth plan for Dandridge. He stated that he did not have any numbers on road improvements that the county will be responsible for, or the cost to run sewer to the buildings. He did think that it would be less costly to attach to city sewer than to put in their own sewer system.
Chairman Potts of the Jefferson County School Board was asked to answer questions regarding the new Freshman Academy project. Commissioner Tucker and Chairman Mills both stated that they had received calls from constitutes about the decision to build a 700 student freshman academy instead of renovating Jefferson County High School. Commissioner Tucker question how the school system plans to fund operating expenses on two new schools. The expense of operating two new schools will be higher than the $500,000 previously allocated. Potts stated that the amount of operating costs is not available. Tucker questioned the additional funds needed to run the sewer to the new locations and to improve the roads. He stated that the county cannot afford to pay to operate the new schools and the buildings my have to sit empty. Tucker questioned Chairman Potts about where the funds to renovate the current high school will come from. Potts stated that ultimately the County Commission will have to decide whether or not to fund the renovations at JCHS. Chairman Mills and other commissioner expressed disappointment at the priorities set by the school board.
Commissioner Tucker stated that he had spoken with Bond Attorney, Joe Ayers, about the options available to the County Commission. He was advised that the county commission can change the application for the bond, without school board approval, to be used for renovations to JCHS. Another option is to retire the current bond (16 million) and reissue a bond for 26 million to repair JCHS and add on pods to the current structure. According to Tucker, the down side of this option is the 5 million dollar fee to retire the bond. The school board attorney, Chuck Cagle, stated that he did not agree with the Bond Attorney, and that once the school board receives the money they can use it as they see fit. County Attorney Churchwell suggested that the commission retire to executive session, due to pending litigation, to discuss the subject.
The commission sequestered with their attorney.
Upon return to the regular work session, the meeting was adjourned.
The County Commission meets Monday, April 18, 2011 (6:30pm ) at the Historic Jefferson County Court House.

The Jefferson County Nominating Committee
met at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. The Nominating Chairman Carmichael called the meeting to order. Chairman Carmichael noted that a quorum was present. Attending the meeting were commissioners Dockery, Hubbard, Musick, Griffin and Cureton. 
Chairman Carmichael informed the committee that it needs to address the and place the position still available on the Building Inspection Committee. A position on that committee was previously held by Matthew Evon, however, Evon tenured his resignation from the committee. The board unanimously voted to accept his resignation. 
The committee questioned the wisdom of having the county building inspector as a voting member of the Building Inspection Committee. The members felt that the current structure should be changed to make the building inspector a non voting member of the committee. It will take approval from the full commission to change the committee structure. 
 

 

 

The Nominating Committee’s recommendation is to restructure the committee with seven voting members, however the building inspector will not vote.
Chairman Carmichael stated that two members of the Industrial Development Board will finish their term this month. He opened the floor for nominations from the committee. Several names were offered for vote. Chairman Carmichael commented that any one of the candidates would serve the community well. He also reminded the committee that though they will present nominations to the full commission, any commissioner can add a name to the list. Following two rounds of run-off voting, the committee elected to send three names before the full commission. Larry Masters was a unanimous vote of the committee. Darryl Keck and Chuck Catlett tied for the remaining nomination. All three will go before the full commission before two are chosen to sit on the Industrial Development Board.
Chairman Carmichael acknowledged that there had been a lot of interest in the Industrial Development Board due to the proposed Business Park/Logistics Park. The Industrial Development Board is currently considering three site locations, and controversy surrounds the project.
Chairman Carmichael called the meeting Adjourn.

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