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Dandridge, Tennessee

August 22, 2011

Staff Photo

Driver Positions Under The Bus

Jefferson County Bus Drivers cancelled a meeting, that was designed to create solidarity among the drivers, in response to allegations that the Department of Education was planning to make alterations to their pay which would result in a serious decrease for some employees. The proposed meeting was on the heels of a recommendation from Director of Schools Edmonds that would halt transportation for the second semester of the school year. The recommendation was voted down in a three-three split during the last school board meeting. According to credible sources, drivers feared that the meeting would impact their employment with the Department of Education. Transportation for regular education students is not mandated by the State of Tennessee. Director of Transportation, Capitol Projects and Facilities Phagan stated earlier that he was included in the decision making process that resulted in the recommendation to cease transportation during the second half of the school year. Edmonds' plan also included the total elimination of four drivers positions. The school budget is slated to come back before the School Board, at a special called meeting at the end of the month. The Board currently has six sitting members, as Phagan stepped off of the Board to accept the position of Director of Transportation, Capitol Projects and Facilities. The County Commission will meet on September 1, 2011 to place Phagan’s vacant seat.

Staff Photo
Jefferson County Budget Committee

The Jefferson County Budget Committee met on Monday, August 15, 2011 at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse.

The meeting was called to order by Committee Chairman Scarlett.

Minor changes to the Minutes of the July 7 and July 21, 2011 meetings were made by consent and unanimously approved.

Director of Jefferson County Finance Helton addressed the Committee regarding a request from New Market and Talbot Kansas Fire Departments to adjust the schedule of County funded payments so they could meet prior financial obligations. Helton stated that currently the County has a schedule of payments of funding designated to nonprofits. The reasoning for the schedule is to spread payments out over several months and lessen the impact during early budget months when there is little money coming into the County. Helton informed the Committee that the cash balances are healthier now than in the past, however the payment schedule works well for the County, with the exception of the two Fire Departments. Committee Member Solomon stated that New Market has a loan payment on fire trucks that comes due on August 1 and they are borrowing money until they receive their funds from the County. Talbot Kansas also requested that a portion of their funding be made available at the beginning of the budget year. New Market is requesting the full funding amount and Talbot Kansas is requesting $20,000 of previously allocated funds to meet financial obligations. Committee Member Tucker made a motion to leave the current payment schedule in place, with the exceptions of agencies that have prior obligations and can meet the litmus test of proof of that obligation, also to include a memo to all non profits that receive support from Jefferson County to be aware of the payment schedule before taking on debt. Motion 2nd by Solomon
Committee Member Turner made an amendment to add the names New Market and Talbot Kansas Fire Department to the motion . The amendment was 2nd by Kesterson and passed. The amended motion passed unanimously.

Helton stated that the Department of Education has received a grant in the amount of $100,00 to replace the air unit at White Pine School. Trane applied for the grant on behalf of the Department of Education. Committee Member Tucker stated that the grant award should free up maintenance money that had been earmarked to repair the unit, resulting in a positive impact on the Department of Education budget. Committee Member Turner made a motion to accept the grant and was 2nd by Estes. Motion passed.

Mayor Palmieri requested an employee salary adjustment for a clerical position in the Building Department. The Mayor stated that the position was out of line with pay for similar positions in other departments. He said that the saving from time without a Building Inspector salary would pay the salary difference for the entire year. Palmieri informed the Committee that his goal was to be transparent with the Committee and comply with the Financial Act of 81, which is the County financial management system. The request was to raise the pay for the full time position from $20,200 to $22,220, which would still leave the position low on the County pay scale. The position is currently taking on additional duties in the Building Department. He informed the Commission that this would be a line item move and not impact the budget. Committee Member Turner stated that all companies are downsizing and people are taking on additional responsibilities. He said that the County will look at across the board pay increased, in the form of bonus or pay raises, in October. Mayor Palmieri stated that should the Committee decide to deny the increase, they should hold all Departments , including the Department of Education, accountable for any raises given that did not come before the Budget Committee. Committee Member Tucker stated that the position is grossly underpaid in regard to similar positions held in the County. He made a motion to approved the pay increase as requested. 2nd by Kesterson and passed.

By consent the Mayor and Director of Finance will confer with the County Attorney regarding a policy concerning the appropriate steps for department heads to give pay raises.

The Sanitation Board Chairman requested a salary adjustment for a employee to meet the level of pay that a Highway Department employee is currently receiving. The salary adjustment totaled $4,616.87. The Sanitation Board stated that the employee in question had 10 more years seniority with the County than the Highway Department employee. Committee Member Mills stated that the salary increase should have been a part of a line item adjustment during the budget process, as no addition duties have been assumed. Commissioner Beeler mad a motion to deny the request of the Sanitation Board. The motion passed.

The Committee is in the process of establishing budget procedures that will be in place for every fiscal year, including a schedule of deadlines for departments. Mayor Palmieri stated that the principal duties of the Budget Committee are to establish a tax rate and pass the County budget. Helton presented the Committee with a first draft of procedures and deadlines to establish a starting point for review. The Mayor stated that departments should be rewarded for spending less than budgeted funds by giving part of the savings back to the department. Committee Member Solomon stated that any return of savings to individual departments should not be used for raises for upper salaried employees. The Budget Committee will continue to work on the procedures for the budget process.  The meeting was Adjourned.

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