Jefferson County Budget Committee Holds First Meeting Of 2021

The Jefferson County Budget Committee held their first meeting of the calender year 2021 on Monday, January 11, 2021 in the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse. Budget Committee Chairman Scarlett called the meeting to order. Absent from roll call were committee members Seals, Blevins and Coleman.

Following a successful motion to approve the October and December minutes offered by Carmichael/ Huffaker, Jefferson County Finance Director Potts informed the committee that he would bring detailed information regarding the County Economic Update for the pandemic year 2020 at the next meeting. Also to be discussed is the EMS Radio Loan, which according to Director Potts, will have to be handled in an alternative manner due to guidelines from the state.

Having no Old Business, the committee moved to New Business first addressing budget amendments for both the County and School side of the budget. Only two items presented had fund balance impact for the County. The first item with fund balance impact was for a replacement ambulance for one that was wrecked. The total fund balance impact for this item is $60,500. The second item with fund balance impact is in the juvenile court line item and the impact amount is $18,223. Both items were approved with a motion from Huffaker/Byrd. All other county general fund amendments were approved with a motion from Carmichael/ Byrd. Also approved was a motion for $60,000 ( no fund balance impact) for relocating the Dickle Road convenience center made necessary due to a TDOT road project. Insurance recovery items for the Highway Department were approved with a motion from Byrd/Snodgrass, as well as a request from Sanitation Director Gaut for $20,000 in funding from fund balance to cover additional expense not covered by insurance regarding a totaled truck.

On the School side of the budget, no amendments were offered that required fund balance usage and amendment #10 items were approved under a blanket motion from Byrd/Huffaker. Also before the committee was a request to move $30,000 from school unassigned fund balance to the legal line item, as the line item is currently running short of funds. The request was approved with a motion from Snodgrass/Byrd.

In other action, the committee approved a resolution that authorized the submission of a 2021 Community Development Block Grant application designed for use in the purchase of 3 county ambulances and equipment. The competitive grant would pay for $420,000 of the $494,118 cost of the ambulances if Jefferson County receives the award.

Committee members discussed employees raises and insurance increases for the next fiscal year, as a part of the assumptions that Director Potts and his staff will use in preparing a budget proposal for the committee during the fiscal year 2021/2022 budget process. The committee was informed that insurance has increased around three percent or more each fiscal year and when combined with a 2% employee raise, the total compensation package is increasing around 5% per employee per year. Committee members Dockery and Huffaker made a successful motion to continue with the same level of insurance contribution as the current fiscal year and to discuss any additional compensation when the budget picture is more clear for the next fiscal year.

With a motion from Huffaker/Byrd $1,378,000 will be moved from County Fund Balance to a Capital Projects Reserve with priority for use going to ADA projects if such projects are ready. The County has until 2035 to complete a lengthy list of ADA compliance projects. Some of those project could be addressed in the proposed school building project and the commission has set aside $1 million additional dollars to address the list. Facilities Chair Huffaker brought a request from the committee for $3500 for the Lewis Group to provide a conceptual plan that would include building placement and projected cost for the County Clerk’s Office and the Election Commission to relocate to the area of the Justice Center. The request was unanimously approved.

Committee members discussed the flooding situation at Ashley Oaks Subdivision in Strawberry Plains but took not\ action on a request for the County to participate addressing the flooding issue. Strong concerns from both the committee and Highway Superintendent Tipton centered around fiscal responsibility that would lie with the county should problems arise with the project.

The Budget Committee set dates for the fiscal year 2021/2022 budget review, allocations and approval which will begin with their first meeting on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Source: K. Depew, News Director