BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
6 JANUARY 2023
The Chair Commissioner Erin Curry opened the meeting asking for a motion on the 10 November 2022 minutes. Prayer and pledge were foregone since offered in another meeting same day. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, and was approved unanimously.
First Agenda Item – Tax Bill Explanation. This was placed on the agenda at the request of Commissioner David Wamble and due to considerable confusion among many of the public. That confusion, after explanations from both Trustee Tony Risner and Assessor Tommy Hyatt, was public dissemination that during the five-year reappraisal tax rates would be adjusted by the state so that the local government revenue would remain tax neutral (no increase to the taxes). Many in the public understood that to mean their individual taxes would not increase. However, factors such as additions to property, and more importantly, to the general public, residential property values increased significantly more than industrial and commercial values. That meant for the revenue to remain the same overall that some residential property owners did see an increase to their tax and per Trustee that increase that he was seeing was up to $300 in some cases. He also noted however that he was seeing reductions in some cases. Tommy Hyatt said there are approximately 20,000 parcels in Giles County with some increasing and some decreasing. Commissioner Gayle Jones asked how much of the business taxes return to the county, with her understanding it was 60%. Per Financial Manager Beth Moore-Sumners $360K is budgeted and through November $42K has been collected. The Financial Manager then resumed discussing the total tax revenue, noting the collections are not consistent across months, and while the final due date for payment is 28 February many wait afterwards to pay, mentioning June as a more realistic date for final numbers vs budgeted amount. Tommy Hyatt also discussed the sales rates giving an example of purchasing a home for $10K, selling for $50K, and recently selling for $92K and also some owners don’t tell the property is commercial although they use the property as rental. The Trustee mentioned the Tax Relief program which offers $149 reduction given certain qualifiers and $869 for disabled veterans and those applications are up, to the extent the state is will have to place more funding in that program. Commissioner Terry Jones asked if there is anything to help all seniors, 65+ and older. The Chair discussed previous discussions and a comparison was developed and she will provide that to all.
Next Agenda Item – School Amendment. Commissioner Evan Baddour asked the Finance Manager to summarize for any new attendees. She did summarize discussing the grants, the purchase of new school buses, and the Richland School roof repair. Commissioner David Adams moved to approve, and with Commissioner Evan Baddour providing the second, the motion was unanimously approved.
Next Agenda Item – Highway Amendment. Finance Manager Beth Moore-Sumners stated this had been approved at the Highway Committee meeting, that it is from within their budget rather than from fund balance, and generally includes changing from Asphalt hot mix to Asphalt liquid. Commissioner Terry Jones mentioned the discussion at the highway meeting on road signs which is included in this amendment. The Financial Manager said this funding shown here is basically a placeholder and may be removed if funds are needed elsewhere. A motion by Commissioner David Adams to approve, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, was approved unanimously.
Next Agenda Item – Employee Health Insurance. A handout was provided showing both current and proposed cost to the county of the county’s share of insurance according to various plans, i.e., premier, standard, for five months, that is effective from February – June 2023 (increase of $37.6K). She noted the departments are trying to make the increase work within their budgets so no amendment is being proposed at this time, also noting employees could not change from individual to family during this period. In going forward, she said, the enrollment would be in October 2023 and would only go into effect in December so for seven months. That would mean two budget cycles before a full budget cycle. Commissioner Evan Baddour asked how soon would employees see at least some small increase with those elected family coverage seeing more? Beth answered going into effect in February 2023. Commissioner Mathew Hopkins asked why not reshopping, why not trying to get a better rate. Nancy Griffin, Financial Management, discussed using a broker to review options and present best option and Commissioner Hopkins then asked are we locking ourselves in. Beth said this is the first year we have used a broker and we are not locked in and can change. At this time Commissioner Shelly Goolsby noted the school system is under a different coverage and has different rates, and Beth suggested reaching out to state over possibility of combining. She also however noted the urgency of approving something in this meeting. She discussed as did Chief Deputy Brandon Beard on losing employees specifically because of insurance. Commissioner Jim Lathrop said this action would have long term implications and sometimes agents or broker have limited outlooks. Commissioner Evan Baddour asked if there is any rule/guidance on using a broker and Beth said no, just this year is the first time we have used a broker. Commissioner David Wamble discussed funding requirement this year which may grow next year, and could be as much as $200k-$300K for a full budgeted year, and once implemented cannot take back. Commissioner Matt Rubelsky commented that this is for retention but you also need to look at available resources. Beth said somewhat caveated by a spouse waiver (if that spouse has access to family coverage at their employment) so would reduce who chooses the more expensive family coverage. She also mentioned that the county has not historically crossed over from department to department funds but that could also be possibility. Other areas of discussion and response: since only for fulltime employees what constitutes a Fulltime employee – 35 hours. Could we increase to 40 hours? Adverse on retention. Shouldn’t we do exit interviews to determine reasons for leaving. Do we have to offer so many options, one plan get a better price? Broker looked at possibility. The Chair we need to vote. A motion by Commissioner Evan Baddour to send to the full commission was seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones. The voting was 4 – 3, with Commissioners Curry, Baddour, Terry Jones, Pruett voting yes and with Commissioners Gayle Jones, Hopkins, and Adams voting no. Motion carried.
Next Agenda Item – Resolution – Budgetary Priorities. A handout drafted by County Executive Graham Stowe and Chair Erin Curry was provided. The draft resolution makes a budgetary distinction between vital governmental functions versus charitable services with exceptions of the Giles County Fire and Rescue, Giles County Agri-Park, Giles County Public Library Ardmore and Minor Hill public Libraries. Commissioner David Adams asked why the Campbellsville library not shown and was told no Maintenance of Effort (Blue Ridge does not provide their books). Commissioner Evan Baddour said the resolution uses a lot of adjectives, many of which are up for interpretation. The Boys and Girls Club is in his district, he said and that he would vote against the resolution. Commissioner Judy Pruett had a similar comment addressing the Chamber of Commerce (which is mentioned if there is a surplus), and she said she sees it as essential and that she too would vote against it. County Executive Graham Stowe said it is all about tradeoffs, e.g., teacher pay too low, and that he doesn’t think people’s dollars should be used. He also mentioned could we help in other ways for the charities. Commissioner Baddour said it is all about our values and that the public has a right to present their case. Commissioner Terry Jones said as a veteran, like to see it stay on. And that he would not support any non-profit without seeing the organization do fund raising. Commissioner David Adams said he would like to add Campbellsville; Commissioner Wamble asked to increase the hotel/motel increase for the Chamber of Commerce. The County Executive said would require a Private Act at state. The question on passing this resolution, would it require a 2/3 majority to pass and the County Executive said he would find out. A question by Commissioner Woodard on the non-profits be a recipient of the radio auction and the Chair said would have to do a coalition. Commissioner Gayle Jones said the highway committee meeting was not announced timely and that she wants the public to know. A motion by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Adams was made to add the library and was unanimously approved. Commissioner Evan Baddour said this resolution seems like government action over-reach; the County Executive said the over-reach is in giving away county funds, and that we to better manage the funding expectations of non-profit charitables. A motion by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Gayle Jones to send to full commission was made with a 5 – 2 vote. Commissioners Hopkins, Gayle Jones, Terry Jones, Curry, Adams voting yes and Commissioners Baddour and Pruett voting no. Motion approved.
Next Agenda Item – 23-24 Budget Calendar. A handout was provided showing the various activities and planned dates with the first public meetings starting in middle May, a public hearing scheduled approximately 06/22 and the final meeting scheduled for 06/29. Included in the handout was a non-profit deadline of 15 April. All the dates are approximate and will be announced to the public. Some concern was raised by Commissioner Adams on reflecting that the last year’s scheduling of one day for reviewing the overall budget caused tiring both physically and mentally. After discussion there were no objections to the proposed calendar. The upcoming May 24-26 conference in Gatlinburg was mentioned.
Next Agenda Item – Commissioner Compensation. A discussion initiated by the County Executive on changing the method of compensation for the commissioners was raised. The proposal would use the budgeted amount, divide by 21 commissioners, and pay that sum as a monthly stipend. The amount would be approximately $256 per month per commissioner. Purpose of the proposed change would be to eliminate need for individual accounting; consistent with method used by some other counties; would be paid regardless of participation/attendance; would not start until the next commission term in 2026; and would require a 2/3 vote of approval in full commission. Commissioner Judy Pruitt pointed out that this is a reason to decrease the number of commissioners. No action was taken at this time.
Old Business/New Business – New patrol cars for the Sheriff’s department is costing more than anticipated. No action at this time
Meeting adjourned by motion of Commissioner David Adams, seconded, and was approved unanimously.
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: Rose Brown, Brad Butler, Shelly Goolsby, Tracy Wilburn, Dr. James Lathrop, Matt Rubelsky, Caleb Savage, Joseph Sutton, David Wamble, Joyce Woodard, Maurice Woodard Other: County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Beth Moore-Sumners, Department Heads Ambulance (Emergency Medical Services) Director Roy Griggs, School Superintendent Dr. Vicki Beard with Knox Vanderpool, Emergency Management Services Interim Director Josh Young, Chief Deputy Brandon Beard, Trustee Tony Risner, Property Assessor Tommy Hyatt, Convenience Center Director Julie Phillips, Chair Planning Commission Connie Howell, Registrar Tammy Helton