County Commission Approves $11 Million Funding Request

Jefferson County Commissioners met for their Regular Monthly Voting Session on Monday, September 16, 2019 at the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse. Absent at Roll Call were Commissioners Phagan, Blevins and Byrd. Following the call to order, the floor was opened for nomination and election of officers for the County Commission for the 2019/2020 year. By acclamation Mayor Potts will retain the position of Chair, Commissioner Kesterson will have another term as Chair Pro Tempore, Commissioner Scarlett will retain service as Parliamentarian and Commissioner Douglas will remain Chaplin.

The Agenda was approved as amended and Minutes were approved before the appearance of citizens. Two citizens, both having addressed the County Commission at the Work Session last week, returned to reiterate their requests during the voting meeting. One came with concern regarding the purchase of the Shular Building for county office space and the other to request a traffic impact study. With a motion from Kesterson and Commissioner Coleman, Notaries and Bonds were approved. Mayor Potts brought several names for consideration for vacant positions on various Boards and Committees. All were re-appointments with the exception of Bobby Collins for a four year term on the Regional Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals. All found favor with the full body.

Director of Jefferson County Schools Johnston informed the Commission that there will be no work session this week. He also issued an invitation to all elected officials to attend a ceremony commemorating the new welding program at Jefferson County High School. Director Johnston noted that the Governor of Tennessee will also be in attendance.

The Commission Nominating Committee brought their appointments for several Boards and Committees. All were previously seated with the exception of Curt Evan who will take the seat of an exiting Alex Miller on the Industrial Development Board. No names were offered from the floor and committee nominations were approved. With a motion from Commissioners Walker and Seals the full body approved the request of Tourism Director for the Chamber of Commerce Lauren Hurdle for a letter of approval to be a part of a package that requests permitting for wine sales at the upcoming October Balloon Festival in White Pine.

Under Old Business the Facilities Committee brought the purchase of a building in downtown Dandridge that would serve to house the Office of the Mayor of Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Finance Office. The committee requested the approval of $925,000 plus associated closing costs to be paid on a four year note from the Debt Service Fund as funding avenue for the purchase of the building. The request was amended by Commissioners Carmichael and Douglas to fund at a $800,000 level. The amendment failed 11-7. Kesterson and Huffaker bought an amendment to fund at a $900,000 level plus associated costs and the amendment passed 11-7. However, when the amended motion came to the floor it failed 10 to 8, as it required 11 votes for approval. The Public Service Committee brought a successful resolution regarding the restraint of dogs and cats which passed 16-2.

Under New Business, several resolutions that were general housekeeping in nature, as well as several budget amendments that were general as well, found approval with the County Commission. Jefferson Park Administrator ( Jefferson County Nursing Home) Roger Mynatt brought a request for a resolution that would allow for $11 million dollars ( not to exceed) in General Obligation Bonds that would fund the development of an off shoot of the current nursing home “green houses” ( population 12 per unit with a three unit proposal) to be located in White Pine. The plan for repayment of the bonds was proposed to be from the proceeds of Jefferson Park but Jefferson County will carry the debt as a part of its outstanding financial obligation. The request was approved 18-0.

Source: K. Depew, News Director