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November 21, 2011 www.jeffersoncountypost.com

TEACHER RETIREMENT CREDITS
Statement Corrections Still Underway
 
Staff Photo / "Heartland Series" - Bill Landry Signing His Latest Book at Thomas Tavern

Discrepancy in Statements

Jefferson County employees of the Department of Education may notice a discrepancy in Service Credits, or years of service, when they receive their retirement statements. Jefferson County Finance Director Daryl Helton stated that there was an apparent glitch in the program used to identify Service Credits during the 2009-2010 reporting that resulted in incorrectly submitting Service Credits to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. Helton, who stepped into the top position at the Finance Department in 2011, stated that the mistake was Jefferson County’s. According to information from the Director of Communications for the State of Tennessee, Blake Fontenay, the time in question is from the period of July 2009 thru November 2010. The result is that a undefined number of employees of the Department of Education have an false accounting of Service Credits. The number of Service Credits

accumulated is an important component in determination of retirement, according to Fontenay. Both Helton and Fontenay stated that the mistake was reported to the State and a request for correction was made early in 2011. Jefferson County sent a list of over 900 names to the State for review, however, the sheer numbers of the request have made identifying those in need of correction difficult. When retirement statements are issued, Helton says there is no way to determine if the statement is correct or not until all correction have been made. According to Helton, a letter of explanation was sent to all Principals before the rest of the school system employees receive their Retirement Statements. Neither Fontenay nor Helton have an anticipated timeline that the adjustments will be complete. Helton stated that those considering retirement during the interim will need to contact the Jefferson County Finance Department for an individual accounting of Service Credits.

Though Service Credits have a significant impact on the personal economics of Department of Education employees, there is no financial impact to Jefferson County at this time. Fontenay confirms Helton’s statement that contributions to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System appear to be accurate and up to date.

 

Palmieri Eyes Alignment With Knoxville Metropolitan Area

To Reap Greater Benefits for County

Jefferson County is in the process of looking at ways to attract industry and jobs to the area. County Mayor Palmieri is looking for way to bring different opportunities to Jefferson County. The Mayor stated that he believes that Jefferson County is ideally located, being close to many major city hubs, to pursue a Corporate Industrial Park that could bring in positions with more economic benefits. Presently, there are few avenues of employment in Jefferson County that pay more than base wages. Mayor Palmieri stated that a Corporate Industrial Park would be more cost efficient, cleaner and bring in some, much needed, better paying jobs. Palmieri would like to see the median household income in the County increased, which will necessitate that the County look into attracting employment other than manufacturing. He sees the County adding more distribution and corporate offices to the employment mix. The Mayor wants 2012 to jump start the push toward making the County desirable to Companies looking to locate in the area. The first step on the path toward this goal is to reassess the Counties Metropolitan affiliation.

Jefferson County has aligned itself with Morristown and is currently considered a part of the Morristown Metropolitan area, which includes Hamblen, Grainger and Jefferson Counties. In order to be considered a part of a Metropolitan area, there has to be strong economical and social ties to that area. Metropolitan areas are used to define an area and can be instrumental in providing information to decision makers when in pursuit of new industry. Being attached to a metropolitan area declares that there is a sufficient amount of interaction with a particular area to establish mutual benefits that can be derived from the association. In short, the areas are closely tied together. In the case of a rural area such as Jefferson County, this means cultural, economic and educational opportunities can be garnered from the greater metropolitan area. Many business are attracted to locations that provide more urban opportunities. Jefferson County, though currently associated with Morristown Metropolitan, meets the criteria to join the Knoxville Metropolitan area. Statically, more than 25 % of Jefferson County residents are employed in the Knoxville Metropolitan area and it is considered as a part of that area when identifying modes to ease commuter traffic. It is named as a contributing factor in the Knoxville Regional Mobility Plan. Jefferson County is undeniably tied to both the Morristown and Knoxville Metro areas, however must declare an association with only one. The possibility exists that Jefferson County could reap greater benefit from an association with Knoxville, which has greater socioeconomic diversity and opportunities as well as having recently been named a great value city. An association with Knoxville will also bring ties to the Technology Corridor, which could be a boon to many industries. The Knoxville Metropolitan Area is much more populated and has a significantly larger industrial and business base which, in turn, brings greater exposure to the area. Mayor Palmieri stated that he is not unhappy with the Morristown affiliation, however, it is his responsibility to investigate all the doors that are open to Jefferson County and to try to help the County move in the direction that is best for its residents. He plans to consult with County Attorneys and seek their guidance and hopefully pass the issue of joining the Knoxville Metropolitan Area to the Jefferson County Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Full Commission.


Staff Photo
County Commission Work Session

Commissioner Scarlett Requests Nominee Clampitt To Remove Name Due To Use Of Foul Language


The Jefferson County Commission met for their Monthly Work Session on Monday, November 14, 2011 at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse.  The Meeting was Called to Order by Commission Chairman Mills.

One Citizen appeared before the Commission to request that the Strawberry Plains Library remain in the current location.

Nominating Committee Chairman Cureton informed the Commission that the Committee will bring four names to the next meeting for consideration for the three vacant seats on the Industrial Development Board. The recommendation will be for Clampitt, Jenkins, Miller and Jackson. Commissioner Scarlett requested that William Clampitt remove his name from consideration. Clampitt declined to remove his name from the list of candidates and Scarlett stated that Clampitt had used foul language toward the Commission in an earlier meeting. Scarlett stated that the position on the Industrial Development Board requires the ability to keep emotion in check when dealing with sensitive issues and that Clampitt’s display at the meeting in question was unacceptable. Clampitt did not deny Scarlett’s statement and he confirmed that he had directed foul language toward a Commissioner.

Jefferson County Mayor Palmieri was unable to attend, as he was at another meeting.

Jefferson County Finance Director Helton will bring Financial Information on Monday, as well as draw downs on Bonds for Schools. Commissioner Turner stated that there was a pattern of not having information available at work session. Chairman Mills stated that the information requires several offices and therefore it is not always ready at the time of work session. It will be ready for review before the next Commission meeting.

Budget Committee Chairman Scarlett informed the Commission that the Committee will present amendments to the Commission at the next 

meeting. He also stated that the Committee will address issues that have arisen concerning the recently approved bonus for County employees.

Facilities Committee Vice Chairman Turner stated the Committee had installed Tabor as Chair, Turner as Vice Chair and Carmichael as Secretary. He said that they have set a tentative schedule for meeting and will be asking the Commission to add Longmire and Phagan as non voting members.

Commissioner Blevins addressed the Commission regarding the acceptance of the Union Hall for the purpose of a Library for Strawberry Plains. He stated that per a report from David Longmire, Jefferson County Facilities Director, there is no asbestos or lead in the building. There have been inquiries into the roofing situation and information has been received that the roof improvements can have a guarantee. Blevins stated that there is not adequate parking at the current facility and the bathrooms will have to brought up to code at either facility. He said that the Union Hall facility is larger and would be County property rather than a lease situation. Grants are available for the Union Hall location, should the County decide to accept the gift of the facility. Commissioner Turner stated that, to date, the Community appears to be divided about relocating to the Union Hall and that he does not want the Commission to stand in the way of a community decision. Commissioner Barreiro stated that the majority of the Community wants a Library that has sufficient space to meet their needs. She stated that she agrees with Commissioner Blevins that it is time to accept the Union Hall and move on with the project, as it is the most cost efficient option.

Commissioner Dockery addressed the Commission regarding a Capitol Request Policy. He stated that the County needs to have a uniform policy regarding capitol projects. Dockery said that those who approve funding for a project and those who spend it should fully define the scope of the project and be held accountable. Commissioner Dockery plans to request that the Budget Committee look at a clearly defined Capitol Request Policy and that they incorporate a forecast of capitol needs from each County Department. He stated that a long term plan and clear expectations of projects will provide information that is needed to make the most of County funding.  The Meeting was Adjourned.


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