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Commissioners debate budget amendments

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By Jennifer Caldwell

 

Commissioners revisited familiar topics during Monday’s budget and finance committee meeting.

The group managed to get through the bulk of January’s 26 budget amendments before the meeting hit a snag.

When Richard Terry, deputy finance director, introduced amendments allowing for the transfer of $200,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the Kmart building to the Jellico and Campbell County High School JROTC programs for buildings questions began to fly.

Commissioner David Young was the first to weigh in on the issue.

“Why are we paying money to core drill property to see if it is appropriate for industrial development if we are going to give all of the money we have to buy it away?” Young asked.

Agreeing with Young, Mayor William Baird took the opportunity to inform the group the $100,000 being proposed for each school would only scratch the surface of the $500,000 needed to construct the buildings.

Commissioners Melvin Boshears and Stan Marlow, who had requested the amendments for the JROTC money, seemed incredulous at the estimated cost of the proposed facilities.

“That’s not the figure I was given,” Boshears said.

The mayor went on to explain the county may be eligible for some grant funding to help with the purchase of suitable industrial property.

“It will be much easier to get that grant money if we already have some money on hand to match it,” Baird said point out the importance of holding on to the money that had been earmarked for industrial development.

Jeff Marlow, county finance director, told commissioners he was under the impression the JROTC program had discussed the possibility of obtaining a 90/10 matching grant from the Department of Defense with a previous commission. During that commission’s tenure the group set aside $50,000 for the construction of each school’s facility.

With the introduction of such conflicting information, Boshears and Marlow agreed to remove their resolutions from consideration until more facts could be gathered.

During a December meeting commissioners voted to tar and chip a portion of Archery Lane owned by Bill and Sandra Goss in exchange for the deed to the section of the roadway in question.

At Monday’s meeting Jeff Marlow presented the group with information regarding the legality of the improvements.

According to a survey provided by Tony Crutchfield, Marlow said a portion of the property included in the tar and chip project lies below the 1044’ line and is controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). As a result, Marlow maintained TVA would have to issue a land use permit to the county highway department before any improvements could legally be made.

“I’m not trying in anyway to hamper this project. But I want to make sure when it is done it is done the right way,” Marlow explained. “We can’t use county funds to do something that is prohibited by law.”

Although the commission had previously voted to appropriate $15,000 for the improvements to Archery Lane, Commissioner Whit Goins argued there was no reason to set the money aside until the project was given the green light by TVA.

“We don’t need to move money around until we know for sure what is going to happen,” Goins said.

Commissioner Rusty Orick disagreed.

“We voted on this last month and I’m going to stick by it,” Orick said vowing to stand by the previous action.

Despite a move by Commissioner Adrion Baird to have the resolutions pertaining to the Archery Lane project removed from consideration, the group voted to accept the resolution making funds available when TVA grants approval.