Higher Elevations Seeing Colors

Advertise in The Post
Send Us a Comment
Back Issues
Get Daily Updates with JUST IN

Dandridge, Tennessee

October 10, 2011 www.jeffersoncountypost.com

Budget Committee Recommends Bonus
For Full Time County & Non-Certified School Employees - Teachers Not Included

The Jefferson County Budget Committee met on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse.  The Meeting was Called to Order by Committee Chairman Scarlett.

Upon a motion from Committee Member Tucker and 2nd by Committee Member Beeler the Minutes were unanimously approved.

Budget Amendment to the County General Fund, Sanitation and Schools

General Purpose Fund were approved. Most were line item transfers and non impacting items. One included a salary mis-posting, which was brought to the attention of the Finance Department by the employee in question.

County Attorney Churchwell presented an amendment to resolution 2011-05, Energy Efficient Schools Initiative Loan Agreement, which was defined as a housekeeping issue for continuity in paperwork.

Staff Photo / Fall Mums at Dandridge Farmer's Market
Even the bees are enjoying the warm Fall days, before the cooler weather arrives later this week.

Director of County Finance Helton provided requested information regarding County employee bonus. He presented the Committee with several options concerning an employee bonus. 

Committee Member Beeler requested to separate the issue of full and part time employees.

Committee Member Turner questioned the average salary that bonus information was based on and was informed that the average full time salary is $30,208. Bonus information was compiled based on taking an average of all full time County employees rather than individual salaries.

Helton stated that the County’s Fund Balance is sufficient to provide a bonus. Committee Member Tucker stated that a raise was probably in the best interest of employees. Committee Member Barriero stated that very few people are getting raises in the private sector during the past three years and that it is unfair to ask the economically strapped taxpayer to fund County raises when they can barely pay their bills.

Staff Photo

Committee Member Beeler stated that he would like to see a 1.5% raise and a $100 bonus.

Committee Member Turner stated that there was no cost information available to provide numbers for a raise and that this is not the time in the economy to commit to pay increases in the form of a raise.

Committee Member Estes made a Motion to give a 1.5% bonus to Full time County employees. 2nd Kesterson.

Tucker made an amendment to the motion to raise the bonus to 2% for Full Time County employees. 2nd Turner.

Committee Member Solomon amended the amendment to limit those employees making over $40,000 to 1%. Motion died for lack of 2nd.

The Tucker/Turner Amendment Passed.

The Amended motion was amended by consent to stipulate that an employee must be on the August payroll and must have been employed for one consecutive year. The Bonus of a total of $604.18 per employee ( meeting stipulations ) will be paid in November. The Amended Original Motion Passed with Beeler voting No.

Beeler stated that the County had never given a part time bonus. Barreiro stated that the amount, which was $18 and change, was so low that it would not provide any relief. 

Estes made a motion to give part time County employees a $100 bonus. 2nd Solomon

The Committee determined that it must define who would qualify as part time, as several people could be employed on an occasional basis. The Committee determined that part time employment consisted of less than 30 hours of employment per week and not receiving County benefits. The employee must have one consecutive year of service and be paid on the August payroll.

Committee Member Tucker made an amendment to decrease the bonus amount to $50 per part time employee. 2nd Barreiro-Failed.

The original Estes/Solomon motion Failed.

The Budget Committee received a request from the School Board to consider raises in the amount of 1.5% for non certified School System employees. In the event that a raise was not possible, the School System requested that non certified employees receive the same bonus structure that County employees receive.

Barreiro made a motion to approve a one time 2% Bonus for non certified, Full Time School System employees, to come from the Department of Education’s fund Balance. 2nd Beeler

Tucker made an amendment, which was accepted by consent, to state the amount of the bonus would be based on an average of all non certified, full time employees to amount to a total of $348.06 per full time, non certified employee. The stipulations of receiving the bonus will be the same as County employees, in that the employee must have been employed for 1 consecutive year and be on the August payroll. The bonus will be distributed in November. 

The Original Motion, amended by Consent, Passed with Turner abstaining.

As the Committee did not pass the motion for part time employee bonus for County employees, there was no motion for a bonus for part time School System employees.

Commission Tucker made a motion to use $400,000 of the newly acquired hospital lease money for the use of paving roads. 2nd Barreiro.

Charles Tipton, Highway Superintendent, stated that the department can handle paving at least double the amount of roads per year. 

Estes questioned the amount of money ( $890,000 ) that rolled into fund balance from the Highway Department. Tipton stated that all the paving money was used every year. Chairman Scarlett explained that the amount was possibility due to several smaller expenditures that did not come to pass, such as anticipated repairs. Committee Member Tucker stated that the money for road paving would be for that purpose only, not equipment or other departmental needs.

Chairman Scarlett cautioned that any funds must be handled correctly so that Tipton can continue to meet his mandates for outside funding. Director of Finance Helton will bring back information to the next Budget Committee meeting on the correct method to fund paving without impacting existing funding from outside sources. 

Solomon made a motion to postpone until the next Budget Committee meeting for information. 2nd Turner Passed.

Tipton stated that he did not want to commit a lot of time to gathering information if the Committee was not planning to designate funding for paving. 

Chairman Scarlett polled the Committee, which unanimously agreed that they planned to designate funds for paving.
Tucker made a motion to earmark money that will be received from the Hospital property tax to pave roads. The manner in which to set up funding to be determined when Helton returns with more information. 2nd Barreiro. Passed with Beeler voting No.

The Committee discussed the proposed renovation to Jefferson County High School, which will come before the Budget Committee before if goes to the Full Commission.

Barreiro stated that she wants to make it clear to the School Board that their decision on the freshman academy will weigh heavily on the funding available to renovate. Turner stated that he wants to give the School Board an opportunity to meet and discuss the issue.. He said that he felt that pressing the issue could have an adverse effect. Commissioner Estes stated that he would like to have a feeling of camaraderie between the two bodies. Tucker stated that many Commissioner had already spoken at a Commission meeting and that it appeared to have made little impact. He said that he felt that the committee might need to make a statement through a motion. Committee Member Kesterson stated that he agreed that the money available for renovation will be impacted by the decision for the freshman academy, however he questioned if a motion or resolution would have the opposite effect, given the relationship between the two bodies. Commissioner Solomon stated that he would not support the current plan that includes artificial turf for the football field and track upgrades. 

Tucker made a motion that if the school board was willing to commit the remaining money from the freshman academy and cease that project, the Budget Committee will put additional funds to that money for the purpose of renovations to Jefferson County High School and bring the recommendation before the Full Commission. Motion failed with Kesterson abstaining.

The School Board will return to the Budget Committee with their decision regarding the freshman academy.

No action was taken on the Line Item Transfer Policy.

Upon a motion the review of the Debt Management Policy was Postponed.

Kesterson made a successful motion to approve the Budget Committee Procedures for Each Fiscal Year.  The Meeting was Adjourned.

High Tech Treasure Hunt
Last week the Jefferson County Post launched a new, every Monday in October event. Geocaching is a high tech game of hide and seek that often combines a global positioning location with more traditional clues. The Post had a great response to last week’s geocache and we are happy to report that several Jefferson County residents located the geocache. For those who missed the clues, or couldn’t join in on last week’s hunt, the cache was hidden in the wishing well located beside the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse. This week another Geocache has been hidden. As always, the hiding spot is in a public location. The cache is small and is clearly marked. There are trinkets, no valuables, inside and finders are welcome to take one to add to their Geocache collection. Many hunters also like to leave a small, inexpensive trinket in place of what they take, to add their own personal touch to the cache. Several did take and leave items last week and it was interesting to observe the additions and subtractions to the cache. Remember to sign the log inside the cache so that we know that you were there. Also, there is a comment section- no clues, please- for those who successfully found the cache, on the Just In Section of the Post. Happy Hunting!

DOE Commissioner Huffman Favors Longer School Year

Senator Faulk and Dr. Edmonds Weigh In On The Issue

There has been some confusion recently regarding the newly minted Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman's reported interest in increasing the number of instructional days that Tennessee students are mandated to attend school. With the education reform already in motion, the possibility of adding additional days to the school calendar left many questioning who would foot the bill for what could prove to be a very costly increase to operational costs. Most Tennessee counties are feeling the bite of the depressed economy and many are struggling to meet their current obligations. Should the State decide to pay part of the tab to stretch student instruction days, the cost would undoubtedly be passed along to the taxpayers. Likewise should the State pass the cost of an increase to the local government, the taxpayer again bears the burden. 

A recent statement released from the State Department of Education involving the State’s inclement weather policy and other comments from the new Commissioner of Education about his desire to see Tennessee students spend more time in the classroom, left some in the State anticipating the introduction of legislation to add to the current 180 day student year. 

Kelli Gauthier, Communications Director for the State Department of Education, released a statement on Thursday, October 6, 2011. She stated that the Department of Education has no plans to introduce legislation to lengthen the school year. Gauthier said that the Commissioner believes that the students in Tennessee would benefit from an extended calendar, however, given the fiscal realities of the State, there is no plan to mandate additional instructional time. She continued that it is the hope of the State Department of Education that, over time, local districts will be free from Federal and State rules to allow for more financial flexibility that would result in increased instruction time.

Yvette Martinez, Communications Representative for Governor Haslam, stated that the Governor’s Office would defer the question of an expanded school year and the subsequent funding to the Commissioner of Education.

The Commissioner of Education also addressed the weather policy. Currently Jefferson County, as well as many other Tennessee Counties, attends school for additional time every day to accumulate days for bad weather. The statement released from the Commissioner of Education’s office stated that it is untrue that the State will never approve weather related cancellations. However, it went on to say that districts and schools should do everything in their power to increase instructional time.

Senator Mike Faulk introduced legislation to make it easier for schools to make up time missed. The Senator stated that any increase in student calendar days would have to be considered as a whole. He said that he is a great supporter of education and knows that education reform is necessary to make Tennessee students competitive with surrounding States. Senator Faulk stated that he is also aware of the impact that additional instruction days could have on families and many issues, including fiscal responsibility, would need to be taken into account before voting on any student instructional calendar additions.

Dr. Edmonds, Director of Jefferson County Schools, stated that his support of an increase in student calendar days would be contingent on a comprehensive adoption that would include a funding mechanism to adequately compensate teachers and other staff, as well as other operational costs. He, like Senator Faulk, is aware that in rural areas there are often other considerations. Many families have issues with transportation and daycare. There is also a family financial aspect to add to the equation. Teenagers are often contributors to the family income and a shortened work period in the summer, or increased hours in the classroom during the week, could decrease their earning power. Teacher could also be impacted, according to Dr. Edmonds, as they often use the summer months to continue their education . Currently, gaining a higher degree is the only way to have a significant salary increase in Jefferson County.

The State Department of Education may be unwilling to seek legislation to increase instruction days, however, they clearly feel that it would benefit Tennessee students. Though some research concedes that increased instruction time may result in increased test scores, increased instruction time, after mandated tests, does not have the same positive affect. Other educators feel that it is the quality of the time in the classroom that makes the biggest impact on testing. Whatever the argument, two realities are certain. Tennessee students are lagging behind their neighboring counterparts and the idea of lengthening student instructional days is clearly a concept that the State Department of Education would like to see incorporated. Collective Bargaining and teacher tenure were the first causalities in education reform. Summer break and 3 o’clock release may soon become another educational dinosaur.

Last Week's Geocache Winners
  • Stephanie Rustin
  • Scott & Becky Derkson
  • Lisa Walker
  • David Walker
  • Beth Green
  • Caroline
  • Rae Hutchins
  • Linda S.
  • Bob Jarnigan
  • Pat Thornton
  • Sophie Madeline
Rules and Clue to this week's Jefferson County Post Geocache

Follow To The Letter,

The Eagle's Lofty Home,

And seek out what is hidden

Near a descent that's made of stone.

GPS Coordinates (approximate / within 2-3 blocks): N36 0.92129 W83 24.89472 - Container Size: Small 4"x4" - On Public Property

The Geocache is in a water-proof container.  Instructions are inside.

In The Jefferson County Post "JUST IN" section there will be a page where you can post comments after it is found.  Keep it a secret though!

If you want to play and do not have a GPS, you can consult google maps for the general location of the cache or just use the clues provided. Don’t forget to bring a pen to sign the log book and remember to leave the logbook and the cache for other players! 

© Copyright 2011 The Jefferson County Post All Rights Reserved

October 10, 2011 Go To Page

 |1| |2| |3| |4| |5| |6| |7| |8| |9| |10| |11| |12| |13| |Comments|