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State tells Jellico to borrow $1.1 million

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By Beth Braden

JELLICO—Fiscally troubled Jellico now has a state suggestion on the dollars it will borrow to correct the struggling town — and Nashville says that number is $1.1 million.

The money will cover all the town’s outstanding debts, an Interstate lighting project, the IRS tax lien and court-ordered payments for fire department officials Nelson Kidd and Gary Troxell’s medical bills. The bond will also provide for a rainy day fund, according to Mayor Les Stiers.

The loan will come just in time — the town was $3,054 short of making payroll Monday morning and had to borrow money from the restricted sanitation fund. That money is slated to be paid back out of the money from the funding bonds.

The bond — which is almost as large as the town’s annual operating budget — doesn’t come without further stipulations. The comptroller wants the town to make a 25 percent reduction in payroll hours.

“We’ve fought very vigorously to keep everybody employed and not lay anybody off,” Stiers said.

Jellico Police Officers Wayne Conrad and David Douglas were furloughed earlier this summer. Conrad has since filed a wrongful termination suit against the town.

It was unclear if any there will be any more lay-offs and which department would be the first to see reductions in hours.

The meeting was not without its hiccups — Jellico resident Carolyn Leach was removed for what the mayor called speaking out of turn during discussion about the I-75 lighting project.

At first, she refused to leave, but walked out on her own accord at the urging of assistant police chief J.J. Hatmaker.

“You’ll regret this, Mr. Mayor!” she said as she left. Another resident became angry and left with Leach.

Leach is one of several Jellico residents who have filed a lawsuit in chancery court calling for Stiers’ removal from office. That suit will be heard in court on Oct. 17.

Despite the comptroller’s oversight, the board and the mayor are still at odds over the town’s tax rate.

On Sept. 12, the board – minus Stiers and Alderman Darrell Byrge, met to opted to raise the tax rate to $2.15 for one year. Alderwoman Gail Sharp calculated the amount would be enough to help pull the town from the hole. The move had been discussed once before, but was never acted upon.

On Monday night, the mayor called the tax hike unnecessary.

“[There is] gonna be a property increase, but again — and the comptroller can argue with me all day long — but 50 cent would fit the bill a whole lot better than a dollar,” he said.

Vice Mayor Venita “Cissco” Johnson argued that the $1 increase was originally the mayor’s idea.

Stiers said the best course of action is to leave the tax rate at $1.15 this year and raise taxes next year.

It was unclear which iteration of the budget the comptroller’s office has.

 

Jellico’s past due bills and long term debt

 

Christian Journal       $583.75

LaFollette Press         $548.50

Hood & McMasters     $320

Jellico Community Hospital    $3,365.89

Big Al’s Portable Toilets $150

Campbell County JECDB $3.532.20

Gary Owens   $6,500

Daniels Uselton and Clay       $7050

Craine Thompson and Jones  $20,000

Local Government Corporation $10,619

Methodist Medical Center       $$7,139.29

On Line Collections   $76

Tennessee Urology Associates  $146.39

MTAS$110

Backflow Specialty Co. $82

Verizon          $168.11

Ellison Supplies         $408.74

A1 Office Equipment  $45.97

LaFollette Honda        $48.89

Brent Johnson $50

Sondra Denton $73.26

Fuelman $1,289.17

AT&T Phone   $112.71

Birch Communications           $868.99

Drug Fund     $477.89

Ideacom         $221

Gary McLemore Paint and Auto $ 285

Navitas $71.97

Kim Jones      $100

Jellico Electric           $9,517.35

Travelers Insurance   $$6,322.12

IRS $133,311.64

TDOT $123,282

1st Volunteer Bank    $246,407.91

USDA            $24,847.83

Leasing One Magnolia $47,378.18

Sanitation Fund repayment $3,054

Total: $321,687.92

Working capital needed: $441,434.25

Total Loan: $1,100,000