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Dandridge, Tennessee

July 02, 2012 www.jeffersoncountypost.com

GREENLIGHT ON $10M IN BONDS

Approval to Financial Advisor to issue up to $10 million dollars in Bonds for the renovation of Jefferson County High School

Staff Photo / Civil War Battle of Mossy Creek Re-enactment

The Jefferson County Budget Committee held a Meeting following the Special Called County Commission on Thursday, June 28, 2012, in the lower level of the Jefferson County Health Department.  The Meeting was Called to Order by Chairman of the Board Scarlett. Maples was initially in for Kesterson, who joined the meeting in process.

Jefferson County Finance Director Helton informed the Committee that the actual amount of funds that will be required from County Fund Balance is $637,709 and requested that the Committee consider an additional $30,000 for the County commitment to the TN Achieves program, which provides last dollar scholarships to all Jefferson County students who are attending Walter State or Pillissippi.

Upon a Motion from Committee Member Tucker and 2nd from Committee Member Solomon, the Committee Approved the budget proposal for the Jefferson County General Fund Operating Budget for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 as presented, with the addition of $30,000 for the Tn Achieves Program, and a deficit of $667,709 total to come from fund balance.

Director Helton informed the Committee that there was no change in the Jefferson County Department of Education Budget proposal, as the Board had failed to take action at their previous meeting. Committee Member Beeler distributed a recommended plan from Director of Jefferson County Schools Edmonds that had failed to carry a major majority vote at the previous meeting. The proposed cuts of $600,000

met the required amount directed at the last budget committee meeting and were considered temporary cut to allow time for around $1.5 million dollars to be available from fund balance, which will occur at the end of this fiscal year on July 1st.

Committee Member Estes requested the amount of funds that will actually be available in excess of the State suggested minimum and was informed that around $2.6 million will be available for use as of the new fiscal year, in addition to the State reserve. Commissioner Beeler offered a Motion to send the budget proposal back to the School Board to be balanced. 2nd Mills and Amended by Estes to Approve revenues of $47,132,742 and expenses of $48,123,872 with the remaining $9,991,130 coming from school system fund balance. Turner offered an amendment to allow the $600,000 difference in revenues and expenditures to come from fund balance after the start of the fiscal year. Turner’s amendment died for a lack of a 2nd. The Amended Motion of Estes Failed in a tie vote with Tabor, Mills, Beeler, Estes and Solomon supporting the motion.

Chairman of the School Board Potts appeared before the Committee and stated that the Board is concerned that money is rolling into fund balance, yet the budget proposal shows a deficit. She said that they will actively work to identify the areas that can be trimmed and that the process will take time because there is no way to identify areas until final numbers are in for this fiscal year. Chairman Scarlett stated that he is concerned that including a promise to allow the Department of Education to tap fund balance to make up areas cut to balance the budget will filter to other Departments in the County. Committee Member Mills stated that the Committee has advanced budgets before for other County Departments. Turner stated that he wants a commitment that the Committee will allow the DOE to access the $600,000 that was proposed cuts from fund balance. Mills stated that the cuts were not approved by the school board and that he is uncomfortable in allowing fund balance access for cuts that are not previously approved by the school board. Turner made a Motion to keep the language of the previous motion by Beeler and Amendment by Estes and add language to allow the $600,000 that is cut to come from fund balance. 2nd Solomon-Failed with Beeler, Tabor, Solomon and Turner voting Yes.

Director of Finance Helton recommended allowing the school system to tap fund balance for the $991,130, to balance the budget. He stated that it will be difficult for the Department of Education to cut any more and that the fund balance will increase at the beginning of the next fiscal year. He stressed that the budget process needs to move forward. Beeler made a Motion to send back to the School Board and allow revenues as stated plus the ability to use $1,121,000 from fund balance and return with a balanced budget (cutting $471,030). 2nd Turner-Passed with Kesterson, Blevins, Tucker and Scarlett voting No.

Estes made a Motion to Approve recommending to the Financial Advisor to issue up to $10 million dollars in Bonds for the renovation of Jefferson County High School and for the timing of the Bonds to be left to the discretion of Helton and the Financial Advisor to allow for optimum market situation and the evaluation of Fund Balance before the decision on the amount needed for further issuance. 2nd Turner-Passed with Blevins, Tucker and Scarlett voting No.

Director of Capitol Projects Phagan will provide a drawdown schedule on the renovation project. Helton stated that he will be coming before the Committee to recommend moving 2 cents back into debt service that was removed previously.  The Meeting was Adjourned.


School Board - Renovation To Start No Action On Budget

 

Staff Photo

The Jefferson County School Board held a Called Meeting on June 26, 2012 in the Media Center of Jefferson County High School.

The Meeting was Called to Order by Chairman of the Board Potts. Absent from Roll Call were Board Members Jarnigan and Cavanaugh.

Under New Business and Upon a Motion from Board Member Bradley and 2nd from Board Member Solomon the Board Approved 4-1 (Loy No) General Purpose Budget Amendment #9.  Upon a Motion from Solomon and 2nd from Vines the Board Unanimously Approved a Food Service Budget Amendment and Upon a Motion from Board Member Vines and 2nd from Bradley the Board Approved 4-1 (Loy No) a Federal Purpose Budget Amendment.

Director of Jefferson County Finance Helton stated that he will request from the Commission that the Roll Over amounts from Maintenance, Capitol Projects and Transportation be able to be accessed from Fund Balance.

Director of Jefferson County School Edmonds stated that he is recommending that the Board resend their previously Approved Motion to halt Jefferson County High School Renovation and to Approve the beginning of work on the renovation project. Chairman Potts stated that the Mayor had declared his intent to sign the renovation bonds and that work could begin on the project. Helton stated that he has a conference call, along with the Mayor, with financial advisors to discuss the bond issuance and that the amount of the first bond will be $10 million with the remainder coming later. The Motion to proceed with the renovation was made by Solomon and 2nd by Bradley. Motion Passed 4-1(Loy No). Loy stated that she is concerned that obstacles may be raised for the renovation project. Chairman Potts stated that she is glad to be able to do something positive for Jefferson County students.

Chairman Potts inquired if Director Helton had identified areas of overages in the budget proposal that need to be addressed before going back to the Jefferson County Budget Committee. She stated that the Board needs to be able to have answers for the Budget Committee and that the Budget Committee is due an answer to their concerns. Helton stated that the starting point for the Budget was in the red because they balanced the budget from fund balance last year and he will investigate further. Loy stated that past mistakes have impacted the relationship with the Budget Committee. Director of Schools Edmonds presented a recommendation for the $600,000 in cuts that were requested by the Budget Committee. The amount included $343,000 for buses, $182,000 for Diesel for the 2nd semester, $41,250 in gasoline for the 2nd semester and $33, 250 unidentified. Director Edmonds stated that he would not recommend the cuts unless there was assurance that the Department of Education could use fund balance after the roll over at the beginning of the fiscal year ( July 1, 2012) to return funds to those line items. Vines made the Motion to Approve the recommendation conditional on restoration of funds through fund balance after the start of the new fiscal year. 2nd Solomon-Failed 3-2 (Bradley and Loy No - large majority required to Pass).

The Board worked to establish cuts to meet the $33,250 of unidentified cuts necessary to meet the $600,000 reduction request. Chairman Potts suggested cutting from contributions to the Finance Department. Loy stated that it might be considered adversarial to the Budget Committee to cut the contribution to Finance and suggested a cut to high end salaries. Chairman Potts stated that they could use the Medical Insurance Regular Instruction Line, as it is constantly fluctuating.

Bradley made a Motion to increase revenue by using $1,153,000 from fund balance to cover the costs of State increase in retirement, insurance and local match for raises. $267,500 for Mount Horeb Elementary School to be requested to be funded from the Budget Committee and $116,365 in certified raises to be funded from Budget Committee.  Motion died for lack of 2nd. No further action was taken.  The Meeting was Adjourned.


Colorado Wildfires May Now Be Controllable

By Jake Depew

The weeklong wildfire in Colorado may be more controllable, as firefighters managed to force the spread to a standstill on Friday just on the edge of the Colorado Springs. Although the fire may finally be under some measure of control, the damage already sustained to the area is enormous. As of this writing, there have been two confirmed deaths due to the fire, and at least 30,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding areas. At least 346 homes have been destroyed in the incident. Since the fire started spreading into neighborhoods on Tuesday, as many as 11,000 firefighters have been involved in the incident. The military was ordered Friday afternoon to help firefighters, with 145 combat engineers being added following their three days of firefighting training. 4 Military C-130s have been added to the effort, each equipped to drop 21 tons of fire retardant per drop. These are in addition to the 19 air tankers already being utilized against the wildfire. Although the fire has been fought to a standstill, it is unknown how much more work is needed to fully control the blaze. Citizens everywhere are being urged to carefully monitor any fires they create, as the conditions for much of the U.S. are extremely dry.

Independence Day
 

Jefferson County residents will celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. The 4th of July marks the day that the Nation celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The adoption of the document signaled the separation of America from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Through the years, citizens have celebrated the freedoms associated with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with parades, picnics, public addresses and fireworks. This year enough hot dogs are expected to be consumed to account for one hot dog for every two people in the Nation. Billions of dollars will be spent importing fireworks and the Flag will fly proudly from homes all across the Country. In 1870 the United States Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for government employees and in 1938 it became a paid holiday for government employees. Three Presidents, Adams, Jefferson and Monroe, died on the 4th of July. Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4th 1826 and Monroe died five years later. One President was born on July 4th, Calvin Coolidge. George Washington celebrated the second Independence Day by giving extra rations to his troops. A lot has changed in the years since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the Nation has prospered in ways that the founding fathers could have only imagined. Though the Nation has transformed since the days of John Hancock and Ben Franklin, the ideas, motivation and dreams of the brave men who saw the opportunity for a better future and had the courage and foresight to move toward it remain strong, generation after generation. It is that vision for prosperity and freedom that is the cornerstone of the Nation and the cause for a day of celebration.

 
COMMISSION CALLS SPECIAL MEETING

The Jefferson County Commission held a Special Called Meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2012 in the lower level of the Jefferson County Health Department.

The Meeting was Called to Order by Chairman of the Commission Mills. Absent from Roll Call were Commissioners Musick, Griffith, Blevins and Dockery.

The purpose of the Meeting was to take action on budget amendments that were necessary to close the books on the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year, which ended June 30, 2012.

Upon a recommendation from Budget Committee Scarlett, the Commission Approved County General Fund Budget Amendment #9 and Amendments to the Law Library, Capitol Projects, Debt Service, Sanitation and the Highway Department. Fund Balance impacts of $1,321 from fund assigned for Law Library - $8,075 from Capitol Projects Fund Balance (Trustee Commission and Difference in Hwy paver equipment bid and actual cost) - $19,091 from Debt Service Fund (Trustee Commission, Other Debt Service, Principal and Interest on Education Loans) - $38,726 Highway Department Fund Balance (Quarry Operations including electricity, drilling, explosives and other expenses). Voting No on the total amendment motion was Maples and Kesterson.

Upon recommendation from the Budget Committee, the Commission Approved School Budget Amendments #8 and #9 from General Accounts and #10 from the Federal Budget, as well as an Amendment from Food Service. All were line item transfers and non were Fund Balance impacting. Voting No were Kesterson, Maples and Scarlett.

The Budget Committee met prior to the Special Called Meeting to address the issues of amendments, as were presented to the Full Body, and provide recommendation to the Full Commission. Items were addressed and discussed separately in the Budget Committee Meeting before being taken as a lot, by consent of the Commission.  The Meeting was Adjourned.


Syria Officially In Civil War
By Jake Depew
 

On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad acknowledged the fighting in Syria to be a true state of war. Previously, the Syrian president maintained that the Syrian government was fighting terrorist factions in the country. President al-Assad has stated that the government’s prime focus is now entirely on ending the civil war, and that all available resources will be utilized. The acknowledgement allows the Syrian government to approach combat as they would in a civil war, with a rebellious suburb being the target of bombing Tuesday. The Observatory for Human Rights stated that Tuesday’s violence has killed as many as 62 people, with possibly half of the casualties being civilians. The United Nations monitoring mission is to remain suspended until further notice: the U.N. has until July 20th of this year to decide whether to renew the mission or not. In light of the upsurge of violence in Syria, a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland has is being held over the weekend of June 30th, and June 31st. Many parties are optimistic that the meeting will effectively further peace talks and the efforts to end violence in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg this past Friday, seeking to raise pressure to end the Syria crisis. Currently, the United States has advocated political change in Syria, although Russia wishes to avoid international involvement. The U.S. is to attend the meeting in Geneva, and no further details on the peace talks are known as of this writing.

 

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