Claiborne County Commissioners voted to receive a 40 percent raise during their September meeting, raising their fee per meeting from $250 to $350.
The 2012-2013 budget was passed during the meeting, with the $100 raise a part of the appropriations approved by the majority of the commission. Commissioner Danny Longworth was absent, and Ken Clark and William Jessie both voted “no” on the resolution.
“The biggest reason I voted against it was because the commissioners voted to give themselves a $100 a month raise,” said Clark after the meeting.
The resolution contained appropriations for the entire county, and Jessie could not be reached for comment as to why he voted against it.
The various committees that meet during the year and outside of regular commission meetings, such as the Budget Committee, also effectively received a raise. According to county finance director Sam Owens, those committee members receive half of the meeting fee, which will now be $175 per committee member, each time the committee meets.
The commissioners also voted on a resolution for the county’s property tax levy. The county’s tax rate will be $2.48 on each $100 of taxable property, which will go to several sources. The General Fund receives $0.8088 of that, with the General Purpose School budget receiving $1.22, the majority of the tax. The Highway/Public Works budget, General Debt Service and Industrial Board each receive only $0.01 per $2.48.
A resolution making appropriations to non-profit and charitable organizations passed unanimously, with 17 organizations receiving funding: The Daniel Boone Walking Trail ($72,041), Claiborne Co. Fair Association ($10,000), Claiborne Leadership Scholarship Fund ($5,000), Boy Scout Troop #557/Great Smoky Mtn. Council ($200), Speedwell Academy ($5,000), CEASE, Inc. ($5,000), Claiborne Co. 4-H ($1,100), Dollywood’s Imagination Library ($8,500), Local High School Valedictorian Program ($2,000), County Scoop Program ($2,000), Claiborne Co. Historical Society ($5,000), Coalition to End Homelessness ($3,000), Claiborne Co. Leadership Class ($3,000), Claiborne Co. Health Council ($3,000), Claiborne Co. Hunger Ministry ($1,200), Fourth District Voting Precinct for a roof on the building ($3,000) and the Harrogate Library ($15,000). The total of the funding is $144,041.
In other new business, the commission voted unanimously on appointments to the Hospital Board. Bill Dunavant will replace Bill DeBusk, Tom Zachary will replace John Russell and Lindsey Cadle was reappointed.
The commission and audience also heard from Tim Brown, Claiborne Co. Hospital Administrator. He reported that the hospital finished the fiscal year above break-even and there is a positive turnaround taking place there.
“We were looking at a $2.2 million loss two years ago,” he said.
Wendy Killion of U.S. Cellular and Connie Holdway, director of schools, addressed the commission and audience about a promotion through U.S. Cellular. Local schools can benefit by receiving funds in a contest if the community pulls together to vote, explained Killion.
“Historically, communities that pull together and vote for one school have won,” said Holdway. “The PTO at TNT School was the first to ask for support, so we’d like for everyone to vote for that school. Next year, we’ll put the names in a hat and choose another school to support.”
An audience member suggested the money be split after it’s received, and Killion added that U.S. Cellular did not say how the money should be spent after it’s awarded.
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” said Holdway.
The community must go by a U.S. Cellular location to vote, Killion said.
New Road Superintendent Bill Fultz addressed the commissioners, thanking them for the $200,000 budgeted for equipment in his department. He reported that his staff is bush hogging the roads, beginning at the county lines and moving in. He also asked the commissioners to clarify who is responsible for any damage done to cattle guards that are on county roads. One road, he said, has three cattle guards on it.
“I know where you’re talking about, and they’ve been there as long as I have,” said Commissioner David Mundy.
“I don’t think it’s right if we taxpayers are paying to keep someone’s animals in,” said an audience member.
The commission asked County Attorney Jim Estep to research the problem and bring it to the next meeting.
The next meeting of the County Commission is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the large courtroom of the courthouse.