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Budget Committee Meeting Minutes – September 29, 2022

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Chair Commissioner Erin Curry opened the meeting asking for approval of the agenda.  Commissioner Evan Baddour moved for approval and with Commissioner Judy Pruett providing the second, the agenda was approved.  Prayer and pledge were not offered due to being done in a previous same day meeting.  The Chair then asked for a motion on the 8 August 2022 meeting minutes and with Commissioner David Adams moving for approval and with Commissioner Gayle Jones providing the second, the minutes were approved.


First Agenda Item the School Amendments discussed in the same day meeting.  Commissioner Pruett moved for approval, and with Commissioner Adams providing the second the amendment was approved by the Budget Committee.  A question from Commissioner Baddour on any use of the fund balance was answered by the Financial Management Director, Beth Moore-Sumners, that no funds from the fund balance was used, that the source of the funding was the additional Basic Education Program (BEP) revenue. Question by Commissioner Terry Jones on the $81K salary was answered by Dr. Beard that that salary is the state’s set salary schedule.  Question by Commissioner Rose Brown on whether there is a range on that salary and Dr. Beard answered that it is a flat salary.  County Amendments for the 2022-2023 Budget were explained by the Financial Manager that the amendments are a bookkeeping process to place back into specific fund lines within the 2022-2023 budget those funds that were not expended in 2021-2022.  Those are Ambulance Rollover HHS Grant (COVID funding) for $38,778.64; Archives Reserve $16,459 to be used for part-time personnel and for moving expenses; Animal Shelter Donations of $420; and the Sheriff THSO Grant funding of $25K placed back into the Overtime line and for Equipment.  A motion for approval of all the amendments was made by Commissioner Adams, seconded by Commissioner Pruett and was approved.


Second Agenda Item Non-Profit.  Chair Curry mentioned that in the previous budget year Commissioner Joyce Woodard has spent a lot of time preparing the outline for submission of any non-profit requests to the county.  She then said she would let representatives from the non-profit currently requesting funding to speak.  Ms. Carolyn Thompson spoke for the Trail of Tears request.  She described the historical aspect of the Interpretive Center for the Cherokee nation as well as being the only place in the U.S. for where two Trails of Tears cross, the fund raising done, e.g., the recent Powwow which netted $6K, the specific economic advantage for Giles County with the revenue generated by tourism.  Commissioner Woodard discussed her previous experience with tourism and how much revenue comes into the county as well as the tours which expose so many people to Giles County, mentioning one couple who chose to move here after the tour.  She mentioned that tourism is the 2nd largest industry in the world and that the hotel/motel tax was originally to provide 20% return to tourism efforts.  However, a private act currently in place designated all those funds to do county building repairs and would have to go back to the state legislature to change.  Concerns raised by the Commissioners were: had googled and couldn’t find anything on Giles County; had rules for submission; input by another non-profit was not collated although all others were; passed budget in June and still talking about non-profits; unprofessional submission brings doubt money would be well managed; purpose of government not to fund charity; charity for our kids more important; department heads conservative with their own budgets and funding non-profits affects those departments; from a financial management standpoint any funding to non-profits has to be advertised in paper again and also additional meetings.  From Commissioners who supported funding non-profits the following was identified:  tourism brings in free dollars for the county, noting sports tournaments; budget committee composed of only 7 commissioners making recommendations to approve or not, but can always be brought up at the full legislative meeting (although has certain stipulations); if not funded some of that effort will cost the county in the long term  – looking at that funding as an investment in the future; where individuals listed their contributions to charities on a personal level,  people who donate in that fashion are typically church members and since that is in a significant decline that leaves about 20% of the people to fund charities; Boys and Girls Club was mentioned several times with no representative attending, several commissioners spoke for them, saying it’s not a baby sitting service, that it allows those children to see they have value; won’t remember our building improvements but will remember if some of those children are later in jail.  A question was asked why these were not funded, and the answer was that the budget had to be approved at that time (June) and these were to be addressed later.  A motion by Commissioner Baddour and seconded by Commissioner Pruett to send a budget request of $5K to the full commission was made but not approved with only Commissioner Baddour and Commissioner Pruett voting to send on.  A question was raised to send supporting tourism statistics to the full commissioner was made and also failed with only Commissioner Baddour and Commissioner Pruett voting in favor.


The final non-profit, the Fire and Rescue Service, was addressed by Bill Myers with a request of $9450.  The request was for 10 automated external defibrillators (AEDs), portable devices designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.  The First Responders may arrive before an ambulance can arrive, and currently neither service operates with the same system.  These AEDs will be able to transfer their data to the ambulance AEDs, thereby reducing time and saving lives.  Commissioner Hopkins asked about maintenance and was told by Josh Young (EMS) that the pads carry a 3–4-year expiration date, the software would only require upgrades in about 5 years.  On resale value of current ones, the answer given by Bill Myers was no; and on training the answer was already have significant training, e.g., CPR and can’t make this training mandatory.  However, $6.50 is cost and training is done locally by Josh Young.  A motion by Commissioners David Adams, seconded by Matt Hopkins, to approve, was approved.  Financial Management Director noted the funding information would have to be placed in the paper.


Chair Curry mentioned the Minor Hill library and that they were funded due to their Maintenance of Effort (MoE) agreement with the Blue Ridge Regional Library.  She suggested that MoE be incorporated into the Bylaws.


The next agenda item Tennessee Advanced Communications Network (TACN.)  County Executive Graham Stowe discussed the TACN, which is statewide to form an emergency communications system across the entire State of Tennessee.  He noted the county currently has “holes”, uses analog and would be converting to digital.  Originally this was to cost $11M, is now at $6.6M across three years with the state providing two towers per a verbal agreement.  This price will mean all Giles County including the cities/towns will have the radios that can communicate to ambulances, emergency management, sheriff’s department, 911, etc. as well as communicate with other county agencies.  The Financial Management Director noted that with the three-year phasing and associated costs, the county’s funding will be more readily available rather than a one lump requirement.  County Executive Graham said he did not need approval at this time as this information was provided as an update.  Commissioner Hopkins asked if the county would own the towers and if so a possibility of renting to some of the cell phone companies to help reduce county cost might be considered.  County Executive mentioned that might be possible however, not all may be new towers but would make use of existing structures as well.


The next agenda item was on the Animal Shelter and Director Morgan Sutton was asked for an update on the free adoption, previously approved, and requiring an update to the policy.  The Director provided statistics on how many dogs had been processed this year, with many of the dogs being in poor health.  The Chair asked all to consider personal donations such as food/treats.  Ann Story, member of the public, asked about cats and Morgan’s reply was that the shelter does not take cats.  Morgan further mentioned and praised Lucky’s Cat House in Petersburg, Tn who does help with cats and dogs, even doing some spays.  The Chair mentioned there had been a new shelter building planned but during COVID costs increased significantly above the budgeted amount.  Commissioner Judy Pruett moved for approval on a policy change and with Commissioner Terry Jones providing the second the motion was approved.


Chair asked for any old business and there being none asked for new business.  A request to Roy Griggs, Director Ambulance Service by Commissioner David Wamble to provide information on the Florida disaster was done.  Giles County has provided two people, a paramedic and an EMT to assist in the evacuation of a hospital with 46 bed capacity.  They will spend approximately 15 days there, sleeping in a warehouse (mentioning rat infestation).  The County also sent one truck.  This cost will be reimbursed by Federal dollars, and per Roy the backfilling of the two people was considered.

Commissioner Wamble then asked if the statistics on the dead animal pickup could be provided the next time for this committee.  Commissioner Adams then moved for adjournment with Commissioner Terry Jones seconding.  Motion 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:  Rose Brown, Brad Butler, Shelly Goolsby, Annelle Guthrie, Roger Reedy, Tim Risner, Caleb Savage, Joseph Sutton, David Wamble, Tracy Wilburn, Joyce 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, Members of the Public including Ms. Carolyn Thompson, Ms. Ann Story, Bill Myers