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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Cocke County Finance Committee
The Cocke County Finance Committee meeting Tuesday evening discussed a number of issues. Mayor Crystal Ottinger told the body that the former unemployment office location in the East Broadway Shopping Center has been offered to the county for $65,000. The mayor said the Cocke County Coalition for the Homeless would like to utilize the 3,200 square foot space as a homeless shelter. Mayor Ottinger said the building is appraised at $110,000, and because it was constructed with federal funds, the state is required to sell it. The mayor will further negotiate a purchase price and the full legislative body(CLB) will consider the issue at it's Monday evening meeting. Committee Chair Forrest Clevenger has concerns regarding the overtime in the fire and sheriff's departments. Clevenger told the body that he doesn't want to take funding from the departments. "We aren't paying these guys enough so that they can keep good help," he said. Clevenger pointed out that many counties want a paid fire department because such coverage contributes to a lower fire rating, and therefore a reduction in insurance premiums. Fire Chief Keith Large said a firefighter starts at an annual salary of $18,000 and is paid overtime only after 53 hours weekly. Clevenger suggested costs could be decreased with the reduction of overtime, by hiring additional personnel, and the increased use of volunteers. Mayor Ottinger who oversees the department will schedule a meeting to look at alternative staffing possibilities. EMA Director Kevin Benton had previously asked that funds from the sale of a vehicle in his department be added to his salary. Benton currently is paid $33,400 and he asked that the $11,725 sale price be added to his pay and for training. Last evening the committee was asked to transfer the money to the salary portion of the EMA budget. But committee members pointed out that next year the additional salary funds will not be there, and giving the money as a one-time bonus may open the door to employees in other departments asking for a similar bonus. Benton argued that the previous EMA director was paid more than he is paid, and his responsibilities have increased to include supervision of the river officers. Eventually, the body agreed to send the issue to the full county legislative body for discussion. Manager Terry Starnes of the Friends Animal Shelter addressed the committee after some CLB members had earlier questioned the operation. The county currently is paying the shelter $100,000 annually to provide the services, and some commissioners want a more detailed report on the revenue and expenses. Starnes said there recently have been individuals bringing in large numbers of animals so a limit has been placed on the number accepted at one time. And he said animals from other counties are being dumped in Cocke County. The committee also was told that the county should implement a program to address the lack of spay and neutering. Commissioner Norman Smith suggested unless the problem is addressed, it will keep growing. Pat Mason of the library board asked the committee to create a fund to be used to construct a new Parrottsville library. He pointed out that the board has received a donation of $970,000 for a new library, and a two-acre site is available near the entrance to the Parrottsville School for that building. There will be further dialogue regarding the establishment of a building fund.

Return to Today's News Stories - Front Page

Friday, May 17, 2019

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  • April employment numbers
  • Johnson execution

    Thursday, May 16, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
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  • Roberts arrest
  • Ownby arrest

    Wednesday, May 15, 2019

  • Newport City Council approves new budget
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    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Appalachian Trail killing
  • Kidnapping arrest
  • Gasoline prices move lower

    Friday, May 10, 2019

  • Cocke County rafting industry continues its growth
  • Cocke County Finance Committee
  • Shadow of the Smokies Trail

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