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Budget Committee Meeting Minutes – November 6, 2023 (Approved)

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Chair Commissioner Erin Curry opened the meeting asking if there were any public comments.  Being none, she asked for a motion on the 8 September minutes, and Commissioner Mathew Hopkins moved for approval.  With a second from Commissioner David Adams the minutes were approved unanimously.


Budget Amendments – The school amendments for General Purpose Fund 141 and Cafeteria Fund 143, discussed in same day school meeting, were moved for approval by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Terry Jones, and were approved unanimously.  Previously provided handout on Highway Fund 131 for $10,504 was explained by Financial Manager Beth Moore-Sumners as being a movement within the highway budgeted line items.  Since not requiring any new dollars, and only one item, the Highway Committee had not met for this amendment.  A motion by Commissioner David Adams, seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour, was made to approve, and was approved unanimously.  County General Fund 101 amendment addressed insurance recovery for ambulance, a mental health transportation grant, the Ag Extension Roof, and the Ag Park for a total of $149,424.  Commissioner Judy Pruett, who also serves on the local hospital board, mentioned the board’s discussions on mental health, and asked what is the county’s responsibility.  Sheriff Kyle Helton gave some statistics on numbers of mental health patients/inmates.  A question to Bill Myers about number of Ambulances available was posed and he answered that he currently has four ambulances, but the staffing continues to be a problem.  Commissioner Evan Baddour discussed the court’s approach in a recovery program but while there is a model for that, there is not enough funding.  Commissioner Pruett asked about the process, and suggested the state representative be contacted.  The County Executive said he had that for action. Commissioner Tammy Mathis mentioned that probation has to be attached in the recovery process.  A motion by Commissioner Terry Jones, to approve the 101 Amendment was made, seconded by David Adams, and was approved unanimously.


Old Business – Discussion ensued over how the public is informed of upcoming county meetings, with the CE stating that all committee meetings are advertised by paper and radio, as well as posted in the annex.  Commissioner Annelle Guthrie asked Scott Stewart, The Citizen paper, if the meetings could be considered as a community event and be posted there in the paper without any cost.  Mr. Stewart said they could be, but if the county wanted a guarantee on the timely posting, then paying for an ad was the best way to guarantee the information was posted timely.


With no more old business, the Chair asked for any new business.  The CE then discussed the current way timekeeping for county employees (also includes school employees and highway employees) is conducted.  He mentioned some of the challenges/problems, i.e., blind spots, imprecise, error prone, generating reports and analysis difficult to impossible, and the need to be compliant with labor laws.  His recommendation – to go digital for all county employees.  Several companies had been assessed, with Chronos being the most favorable, especially with their ability to integrate with existing financial software.  The estimated cost given was $103,400 for start up and an annual fee for five years of $43K.  The CE also mentioned the cost of not doing, especially with any future complaints, and potential errors and liability concerns of current process.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, while noting he was in favor of going digital, expressed several concerns about how this would work, who would host the data, how was the integration most effective, and would there be a beta test – to name a few.  Commissioner Dr. James Lathrop asked about county departments “buy in” and did we have information on how others have used this product.  Financial Manager Sumners-Moore said that this type effort had been pursued since 2021 and discussed all county time sheets for 860 employees currently are processed each time period.  After many questions were raised on how this would work and was Chronos the only contractor, the consensus was for Financial Management to take those questions, discuss the solutions and bring back to the committee at a later time.


2nd Item under New Business – the purchase of body and car cameras and tasers for law enforcement.  Captain Joseph Purvis discussed being asked often for footage for court cases; being sued (unsuccessfully) over 4 times, two officers involved shootings, and the use of cell phone footage which may be difficult to see.  The cost of new equipment would be $730K (see below) for 50 body cameras, 20 car cameras, and 55 tasers, and includes storage.  The tasers in particular were described as having more “standoff” applicability, providing for multiple targets on the body, are waterproof, and provide unlimited practice rounds for training.  The other advantage is the integration of all the devices, and with the improved tasers, reducing other type deadly force.  Questions on availability of grants resulted in the answer that only one and it applied to number of homicides as basis for approval, a criteria Giles County does not meet.  Hunter Knight, Assistant District Attorney, spoke from his experience over eight Tennessee counties.  He declared that it is the norm now to have body cameras, as it helps officers with their own safety, while preserving formation.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins asked about the proposed funding, if there was anything planned in the current budget.  The Financial Manager Moore-Sumners said there is some funding but she recommended taking out of the fund balance.  A motion by Commissioner Hopkins, seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour, to approve.  The Chair asked if there was any public comment on this proposed requirement and there were none.  The Financial Manager discussed the final amount since part of the equipment is purchased without tax, and that number was $716K.  Role call voting was taken with the amendment being approved 5-2 (1 absent at this time.) Commissioner David Adams voted no, and Commissioner Terry Jones was absent at this time.


Financial Manager Moore-Sumners discussed a write off from the Trustee’s office of $553.35 which addressed charges in 2022.  She also mentioned $26K on jail vehicles that she will try to cover within that budget.


Motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner David Adams, seconded by Commissioner Judy Pruett and was approved 6 -1 with six present approved unanimously and with one absent.


ATTENDEES:  Members of the Committee Chair Commissioner Erin Curry, Commissioners: Terry Jones, David Adams, Mathew Hopkins , Gayle Jones, Evan Baddour and Judy Pruett Other Commissioners in attendance:   Dr. James Lathrop, Matt Rubelsky, Joyce Woodard, Annelle Guthrie, Tim Risner, Joseph Sutton, Tammy Mathis, Other Attendees:  County Executive Graham Stowe, Financial Management Director Beth Moore-Sumners,  Shanna Woodard, Liz Pate, School Superintendent Dr. Vicki Beard, Emergency Management Director Bill Myers, Sheriff Kyle Helton, Chief Deputy Brandon Beard, Captain Joseph Purvis, Hunter Knight, Assistant District Attorney, and members of the public