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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cocke County budget work continues
Members of the Cocke County Budget Committee decided Monday evening that there should be a special called meeting of the legislative body to consider the 2018/19 budget. The body will be polled to determine if the meeting should be scheduled for before or after the August 2 election. The committee previously decided to remove all requested raises however funding in the proposed jail budget would hike the salaries of part-time corrections officers who currently are paid $7.70 hourly. Committee member Clayton "Skip" Ellison argued against the move saying, "if you are going to give raises, every county employee should have a raise. Finance Manager Heather McGaha reported that CTAS says a fund may not have an anticipated ending fund balance that is in the red. That is the case with the Capital Projects fund, and so that issue will have to be addressed. Committee Chair Robert Green said expenditures in the Capital Outlay fund could be cut if only two new cruisers are purchased rather than the four requested by Sheriff Armando Fontes. That move would cut the $160,000 for cruisers down to $80,000. In response to a question, Mayor Crystal Ottinger said most of the lawsuits against the county have been resolved. She indicated that the county's insurance pays for most litigation except in cases of negligence. McGaha previously had reported the ending fund balance in last years budget stands at about $1 million. That figure is higher than had been anticipated because of higher than expected revenues in several areas as well as the sale of property to collect delinquent property taxes. That sale brought in more than $300,000. "If we have a million in our fund balance, we should give the taxpayers a 10 cent reduction on next year's tax rate," argued Ellison. Commissioner Love Henderson said she also has had taxpayers ask her about a property tax reduction. The Newport City Council recently passed a new budget with a 30 cent tax reduction. With regard to a vote on the budget, Henderson questioned whether a vote needs to be taken in July. Responded Mayor Ottinger, "I request that you not wait till the third Monday in August. That wouldn't give us time for another meeting." McGaha pointed out that the state requires local governments to have a new budget by August 31. "I can't see any reason for a tax increase," added Ottinger. The committee also spent time talking about the agreement which has outsourced medical services in the jail. Commissioner Ellison argued that paying $15,000 monthly for the contracted service is too high. Chief Deputy Derrick Woods said the outsourcing was the result of the firing of the jail nurse who faces a criminal drug charge. And he said the former medical doctor mostly was unavailable because he frequently was traveling. Ellison suggested the service should have been bid out in an effort to keep the provider local, but Woods said efforts to keep services local were unsuccessful. The current provider will be invited to a future meeting of the committee.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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    Tuesday, January 15, 2019

  • Cocke County Finance Committee
  • Warrants issued by Cocke County Circuit Court
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