In its final meeting of the 2017-18 fiscal year the Cumberland County Commission passed a total of 18 resolutions – all but two of them unanimously.
The first one, an extension of the lease agreement between the county and Downtown Crossville Incorporated (DCI) through June 30, 2019, would permit meteorologist Steve Norris to use the stone museum building on Main Street. Just ahead of the vote, First District Commissioner Tracey Scarbrough announced she would be voting against the measure, stating, “While Mr. Norris is a fine man and a fine meteorologist, I just don’t think we need to extend [use of a county building] to a private individual.”
After the vote, Third District Commissioner Rebecca Stone spoke in support of Norris’ use of the facility. “He’s going to be keeping that office open and offering volunteer services,” Stone said, adding Norris would also be available to give talks on meteorology to local fourth graders when they do their downtown walking tours.
Afterward, when asked what she felt would be a more appropriate use of the facility, Scarbrough told 105.7 News, “I don’t think it’s my place to say who I want in the building. It’s just the fairness of that with regard to the building.”
A resolution regarding establishment of a 30 mph speed limit on West Creek Drive received opposition from Ninth District Commissioner Woody Geisler. Geisler told 105.7 News, “I don’t believe that changing the speed limit is going to change people’s driving habits. … I’ve been a cop too long. I don’t think changing the number on the sign is going to do any good,” he added, noting the real issue is one of enforcement.
The commission also voted unanimously to amend its contract with the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The contract, which is now extended to June 30, 2019, covers costs for evaluation and/or treatment fees associated with defendants charged with misdemeanors ordered by General Sessions, Criminal or Circuit courts.
Under unfinished business, Eighth District Commissioner Sonya Rimmer moved to allow the new Cumberland County Animal Shelter to use funds left over from construction to furnish the facility – not to exceed $7,000. After brief discussion, the motion passed unanimously on voice vote.
When the resolution regarding funding for the new Crab Orchard Elementary School came up for a vote, Second District Commissioner Nancy Hyder predictably asked about the sewage issue and its resolution. Director of Schools Janet Graham said of an agreement with the local civil-engineering company Tare, Inc., “We’re hoping by our meeting next week it’ll be in place.”
Cumberland County Director of Finance Nathan Brock issued his monthly financial report. EMS and ambulance income was up in June, with $137,000 collected – representing $9,600 over projected income. Year to date, EMS has collected $3,712,721 of its budgeted $3,900,000 through June. Sales-tax collection is short a little under $17,000, with $7.5 million collected thus far. Property tax collections stand at 101% through May; a 4% delinquency figure was budgeted into that amount. The hotel/motel tax stands at $673,163, with an annual budget of $810,000 – income stands at 83.1% of the budget, as compared with 79.6% last year at this time. Through nine months, prisoner boarding is lagging a bit, with $490,737 collected, against an annual budget of $525,000; this represents a 93.5% collection rate.
County Attorney Randal Boston gave an update on several issues of note, including the following:
- Commissioners who are concealed-carry permit holders may now carry firearms at meetings, “to protect your county attorney at all cost,” he joked.
- Prisoners may no longer be sterilized as a condition of early release.
- Clergy sermons may not be subpoenaed. “You’re going to have to go to church if you want to know what they’re saying,” Boston said.
- Sovereign citizens’ taking out liens on public officials’ property is now a state offense.
- Private, non-profit organizations that get money from the Cumberland County Commission are now subject to the Open Meetings Act.
- There is now no law or restriction on the display of U.S. state or POW/MIA flags.
- New legislation regarding eminent domain requires that if the subject property is not developed within two years’ time, it reverts to the prior owner.
- Boston also mentioned that Senator Paul Bailey and Representative Cameron Sexton worked hard to garner passage of the wind-energy bill, which would put restrictions on wind energy in Tennessee.