Jellico agrees to comptroller funding bond

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Vote consolidates debt, gives comptroller oversight

By Beth Braden

It’s debt consolidation – government style.

During a marathon three-hour meeting on Thursday night, Jellico’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen decided to put their long-standing financial issues to rest and agree to the comptroller’s last resort offer to put the town back on an even keel.

“This gives complete control to the comptroller’s office of spending our money, but this allows us to pay the IRS off right now [and] amass all our debts,” said Mayor Les Stiers.

The comptroller’s office will use bonds to pay all the debt – including $196,000 owed on the civic center, the IRS tax lien and insurance premiums. The town will then make a payment each month to the comptroller’s office over a period of 20 to 30 years.

The comptroller’s office will also have to pre-approve any spending, and the town will not be allowed to have any lines of credit – the budget will operate under  “cash basis law.”

“They’re going to come in and do what they think the board should have already done,” said part-time CMFO Sondra Denton.

Town attorney Terry Basista advised the board to take the bond offer from the comptroller.

“I think you all need to get your finances in order and this sounds like a really good option,” he said. “Just raising the [tax] rate isn’t going to fix our problem.”

Alderman Charles Vermillion motioned to accept the plan, seconded by Gail Sharp.

Aldermen Alvin Evans and Darrell Byrge wouldn’t vote until they heard the rest of the votes.

Vermillion, Sharp and Vice-Mayor Venita “Cissco” Johnson were in favor of the comptroller’s plan. Pam Carbaugh was absent.

Byrge and Evans also voted in favor of the move.

See next week’s LaFollette Press for more details about what the funding pool means for the future of Jellico.