BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
9 FEBRUARY 2023
Budget Chair Commissioner Erin Curry opened the meeting asking for a motion on the 6 January 2023 Minutes. A motion by Commissioner David Adams, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to approve the minutes, was made and was unanimously approved. Prayer and Pledge were forgone since they were offered/led during a previous same day meeting.
First Agenda Item Leveling of Emergency Services Salary. The Chair asked the County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe to address this item. This issue affected Josh Young who had been acting as Interim Director of Office of Emergency Management until Bill Myers was hired by the CE to become Director of the Office of Emergency Services at a salary of $74K. That job now entails three organizations – the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and the Fire and Rescue Service. Josh Young’s salary as interim Director was $74K and would have reverted to $58K, his previous salary, but within the new organization he is now a Department Head. With that responsibility, his salary is $62K. As a Director of the Ambulance Service (EMS), Roy Griggs salary based on his experience and responsibilities is $80K. That salary is not affected. However, for Bill Myers to take the responsibility of oversight of the three organizations, the salary leveling changes his salary to the same level as Roy’s which is $81K. At the point when Roy Griggs decides to retire and a replacement would be required, that person’s salary would be in the $60K -$70K range depending on experience. Overall, the CE expects the efficiency savings will be approximately $10K.
2nd Agenda Item – Indigent bodies (Burial of those bodies determined unclaimed by any person). The CE expressed the need for due diligence on “unpaid” bodies. He currently has three invoices for $1800 each (total $5400). He will process the payment for those, however in the future he wants to make sure the county is choosing the best competitive option. A motion by Commissioner Judy Pruett
and seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to take the payment from the general fund was made with Commissioner Gayle Jones noting to amend the motion to include the amount of $5400. The motion was approved unanimously after the following discussion: Commissioner Evan Baddour noted the language says “may” rather than “shall” be responsible. Commissioner Roger Reedy noted that in previous meetings there were only two unclaimed bodies (after concern expressed on some families being unable or unwilling to claim the body) during the last four years. Commissioner Hopkins asked for a clearer definition of unclaimed and was told that multiple contacts and close relatives (to include first cousins) must be contacted. Commissioner Terry Jones said there are some services such as UTs Body Farm that use donated bodies for scientific purposes. Commissioner David Adams shared a tragic story of a veteran who contacted and died from COVID and both sons denied knowing him, and the Veterans of the county paid for the burial. Commissioner Baddour stated we should develop our policy at a later date for this issue. The CE said he is using CTAS to help and Commissioner Hopkins said pay the $5400 and fix going forward.
3rd Agenda Item Health Department Grant – CE discussed the repairs identified for the county owned building housing the Health Department, employees of which are mostly state funded. The county’s cost of the grant will be $127,100 which would come from the fund balance. A motion was made by Commissioner Evan Baddour and seconded by Commissioner Hopkins to approve the grant and the $127,100. Commissioner Brad Butler said shouldn’t the funding come from the hotel motel tax and the motion was amended to say pay from the hotel motel tax and if not from the fund balance (after checking on appropriate source of funding). The list was then questioned about items such as art work, chair rails, and other nice to have but questioned whether or not needed. A motion by Commissioner Judy Pruett to remove the art work from the repair list, seconded by Commissioner Hopkins with the amount remaining the same was made. A roll call vote showed six to approve the original motion and amended motion (Commissioners Hopkins, Gayle Jones, Baddour, Terry Jones, Judy Pruett, and Curry) and one no – Commissioner David Adams. Motion approved.
4th Agenda Item – Broadband. The CE said the funding would be split between the three vendors based on their proposals. The vendors do not yet have contracts. Commissioner Hopkins asked about the timing of the disbursement and the CE said would follow the state’s disbursement. Commissioner Baddour asked where is the funding Line identified now and was told in the general fund. A motion by Commissioner Hopkins and seconded by Commissioner Gayle Jones, was approved to send forward to the full commission with recommendation for approval.
5th Agenda Item – Water Grant. Of the grant for wastewater projects there remains $125K unallocated. Four water districts (Ardmore being separately handled) will be the recipients of those funds based on need. Another resolution per the CE is required. Commissioner Adams asked for clarification on using those funds for new water lines and the CE said that’s right, they cannot be used for new water lines. A motion by Commissioner Judy Pruett and seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to provide a recommended resolution to the full commission. Motion approved unanimously.
6th Agenda Item – Food Insecurity grant. The CE said this grant totaling $500K for the district is for food storage and associated products to provide food for low to moderate income citizens. The CE said he had held meetings, and had lots of submissions. There is no match required for this grant but needs a resolution, per the CE. He will be initiating Memorandum of Understanding with each approved applicant. A motion by Commissioner David Adams, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, was made to send a resolution with recommendation for approval. Motion approved unanimously.
7th Agenda Item – Personal property tax collection. Trustee Tony Risner provided detailed information on past process and proposed process. For this effort the county will not require any additional funding and the workload of the Trustee’s employees will not be increased. The challenge is that a business comes here, get a license and pays the tax on their personal property but when leaving the county for several reasons, they may not pay that final tax. That can range from $5 to in one case $30K. The proposal is for the American Financial Collection Service to pursue the collections, and that company currently operates in 3-4 states. They apply a sur-charge to their collections so the county would still receive the whole amount. The Trustee said this has always been a difficult situation for their office given the time required to resolve. A question by Tracy Wilburn on how enforced, and the Trustee said can always go and get the property, but there are currently three pages of closed businesses. A question by Commissioner David Wamble on impact to those who pay on time, and the Trustee said no increase to their required tax. A motion by Commissioner Terry Jones and seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour was made to provide a resolution to the full legislative body with a recommendation to approve. The motion was approved unanimously.
8th Agenda Item Fire and Recue Repeater. Bill Myers informed the committee that the Pulaski repeater is unrepairable and replacement cost would be $6633. The Chair noted as a non-profit this would have to be advertised. Commissioner Baddour asked how urgent and Mr. Myers said the transmissions are full of static and that poor reception could impact lives. Commissioner Brad Butler asked who owns the antenna, and Mr. Myers said through the years donated, hodge podge repaired, so unknown. The Tennessee Advanced Communications Network (TACN) will make all this type of network go away, and this would be a bandaid only. There could be some overlap but after TACN is in place the state takes over maintenance. As a temporary solution the antenna is shorter and there is no line of sight. On being asked where it is located, and Bill Myers said on Ft. Hill. A motion by Commissioner Gayle Jones and seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour to approve the purchase and send to full commission was made and was unanimously approved.
9th Animal Shelter. Animal Control Officer Morgan Sutton requested $83K be placed in the budget; that amount was left from the $100K put in the 2019 budget. The request would be for renovations, add additional kennels, and more concreted areas which will promote more adoptions, allow the public a more safe meeting location within the shelter since currently at least one-half of the dogs are very aggressive. The Chair asked if she has a quote on the proposal and she said not yet. Commissioner Gayle Jones said why not pay as you go. A question by Commissioner Baddour on the actual location and if there would be a conflict if a new ambulance location should be determined for a location nearby. A discussion ensued about potential locations for the ambulance service. Officer Sutton said she was OK on getting quotes and needed to get together with the Highway Department on some leveling of the grounds. A question on how long can hold strays (3 days?) and Officer Sutton talked about those involved in the court process which allows a longer holding. A question by Commissioner Joyce Morgan on how many dogs can you actually hold was answered by Ms. Sutton on the difficulty of doing an estimate, given sometime siblings can be put together. Euthanasia has also gone up with the more aggressive animals. Commissioner Mathew Hopkins asked if the extended holding time could charge against the court case, and Officer said could speed up the process, but the crime would still be there. Also, that she is not investing in vaccinations and/or surgery in those cases. Commissioner Roger Reedy asked what are we doing with her request and given the request for quotes, the Chair said nothing today.
10th Agenda Item – School Amendment. This is for a $35K grant which requires no matching funds. A motion by Commissioner David Adams seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to approve was made and was approved unanimously.
11th Agenda Item County General Fund Amendment. Nancy Griffin, Financial Management, said the movement of Josh Young, OEM, from being a non-exempt employee to an exempt employee required paying out his comp time, an increase of $11K. A handout was provided showing the previous changes to the budget, i.e., $5400 indigent bodies, $127,700 for Health Department facility renovations, $4.5M for broadband, and $6633 for Fire and Rescue, bringing those changes to $4,703,184. A motion by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins and seconded by Commissioner Gayle Jones to approve was made and was approved unanimously.
12th Agenda Item – TruNarc . A Thermo Scientific TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzer is a handheld device that can identify multiple controlled substances including Fentanyl in a single test and without direct contact for most samples. The Chair said the cost is $25K and will come from the drug fund. The challenge is that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a huge backlog and this device will help at the local level to process faster, keep the officers safter by letting them know immediately in the field. Officer Morgan who had used the device said that it looked through two wrapped bags and gave the results. A motion by Commissioner David Adams seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones was made to approve the purchase. The motion was approved unanimously.
13 th Agenda Item Funding Non-Profits. The Chair said she had had considerable discussions with citizens about this appropriation as well as considering other commissioners’ comments during the last full legislative meeting. She said she sees three options 1) move forward 2) do same as before 3)) do something totally different, i.e., set aside $50K beyond funding the libraries, and Fire and Rescue (mentioning county use of such funding, e.g., resurface a road mile). She also noted representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Humane society (represented by Officer Morgan Sutton and subsequently Margie Haney) and the Giles County Senior Center. Dr. James Lathrop said he could see another option, i.e., look at the resolution to change. The Chair then allowed each of the three attendees to speak for five minutes each. Officer Morgan Sutton addressed the support her organization receives from the Humane Society, in transporting dogs to appointments, e.g., neutering, and their transport being larger and more comfortable for the animals. Although the county’s animal shelter does not do cats, she mentioned the Lucky Cat House for those animals. Margie Haney of the Humane Society said they have been over $9K in expenditures vs resources for the past three years and will have to shut down if they do not get assistance. Commissioner Brad Butler asked if she (Officer Sutton) didn’t have the humane society, how many more hours would you have to work. She said at times both she and the other officer are at both ends of the county; and the call volume is extensive. She has two volunteers who at times can keep the gates open and do some of the cleaning and feeding.
Mr. Jim Gerlach, Director of the Giles County Senior Center, said he had mailed each Commissioner a recap of the statements provided at the recent full legislative commission meeting, so he would not repeat those statements. He mentioned the nutritional meals provided to seniors for $1.50 or free if unable to pay, and studies have shown those to keep people live for four years more, or longer. He operates the Center with 1 and ½ personnel (includes himself), does fund raising, recently got a grant for $8K which goes back into the county, feeds as many as 45 people a day, provides transportation especially suitable for the disabled, for any Giles senior. The funding from the county allows the doors to stay open but without that funding the hours or days will be more limited or closed entirely. Lois Aymett, Chairman of the Center’s Board, mentioned the citizens served outside of those who attend the center itself. That takes the form of reassurance calls to individuals who may not speak to anyone else for a week or more, incoming calls requesting a variety of needs be addressed such as will preparation, best Medicare options, or where can you get a wheelchair. In addition, the Center, she said, serves as the central point within the county for addressing all the services available to the senior citizens, programs such as outreach programs to all citizens in the county. Ms. Jessie Parker, Chief Executive Officer to the Giles County Chamber of Commerce, discussed the tourism advantages for the county from an economic standpoint. She introduced Mr. Ryan French, Country Financial, and he gave a financial breakdown of Department of Revenue’s report on discretionary travel. There was some confusion about the members of the Chamber and their role in tourism, their membership fee, and number of businesses involved. Mr. French noted that Giles County is rated in the mid percentile on discretionary travel and for the county tourism is second only to agriculture as the biggest economic driver. A question on how the county funding given to the Chamber is spent was answered by the Chair that Jessie can provide that information. The Chair recommended leaving the process as it is for one more year, especially since debates in May will finalize the funding Commissioner Butler did mention that the Chamber does more than just in county, that tourism is going on outside of the county as well. Commissioner Tracy Wilburn asked if the libraries with their Maintenance of Effort (MoE) would be required to turn in an application, as well as the Fire and Rescue and Ag-Park. The Chair said there would be a request but would need a rule change. A motion by Commissioner Matt Hopkins to send back to the full commission the previously defeated resolution but amended by the CE, died for lack of second. Commissioner Joyce Woodard said the process had been working pretty good in the past. Commission Evan Baddour said he would like to see a pie chart, so he and others could better understand the impact of funding non-profits. Commissioner Terry Jones said he recommended leaving as is. The Chair said next year can be reworked as necessary.
Old Business – none. New Business – Commissioner David Wamble mentioned an email from the CE discussing where some of the ambulance members had been given a raise, and per Commissioner Wamble had failed to go through proper review by the commissioners. Bill Myers gave a handout comparing wages of a part-time employee to working full time and paying that person overtime for the extra workload. He mentioned that discussions between the CE, Financial Management Director, and CTAS and noting that it is within the CE’s authority to authorize the raise since there is no recurring cost going forward and no negative impact on the budget. Commissioner Wamble said should have been in the OEM budget, and asked if there was a sunset clause at the end of the year. Ms. Nancy Griffin said each Department Head can do pay raises without coming to the commissioners as long as within their approved budget. Commissioner Shelby Goolsby said common practice has typically been to bring to the commissioners. Dr. Jim Lathrop said nothing done wrong but could have been done better – common courtesy to let us know. Bill Myers said the rest of the plan was to let all know at the next EMS meeting.
A motion by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins to adjourn, was seconded by Commissioner Terry Adams, and was unanimously approved.
ATTENDEES: Members of the Committee Chair Commissioner Erin Curry, Commissioners: Terry Jones, David Adams, Matt Hopkins, Gayle Jones, Evan Baddour and Judy Pruett Other Commissioners in attendance: Brad Butler, Shelly Goolsby, Tracy Wilburn, Dr. James Lathrop, Matt Rubelsky, Caleb Savage, Joseph Sutton, David Wamble, Joyce Woodard, Maurice Woodard, Annelle Guthrie, Roger Reedy Other: County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Nancy Griffin, Department School Superintendent Dr. Vickie Beard, Emergency Management Services Bill Myers, Trustee Tony Risner, Convenience Center Director Julie Phillips, Chair Planning Commission Connie Howell, Clerk and Master Chrystal Greene, Director Highway Dept Barry Hyatt and Steve Kelley, Officer Morgan Sutton, Ryan French, Director Senior Center Jim Gerlach, Jessie Parker Executive Director Chamber of Commerce, and other members of the public