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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cocke Legislative Body meets
The Cocke County Legislative Body(CLB) meeting Monday evening re-elected Clay Blazer as chair and Norman Smith as vice-chair. Members also agreed to move toward a centralized and streamlined purchasing system. Although the body in 2002 voted to implement such a program, it never was put in place because of the additional costs that would be incurred. The body also was told that a previous commission voted to place the landfill operation under the auspices of the Highway Department. Recently there have been questions about the landfill operation and the current process to permit additional acreage. So the body agreed to disband the current Landfill Committee and replace it with a policy-making board, under the auspices of the Highway Department. County Mayor Crystal Ottinger disputed figures given to the Landfill Committee some time ago that the county is paying about $20,000 monthly to dispose of waste that otherwise would be going into the local landfill. She told the commission that last year the county paid just over $20,000 and so far this year the cost has been $58,000. Commissioner Terry Dawson also expressed concern that leaking pans at various convenience centers have not been repaired. Members gave tentative approval to the rental of office space on East Main Street for storage by the Archive Department. The county will pay rent of $400 monthly if a contract can be clarified with James Saltzman. Commissioner Forest Clevenger again called on the body to pass a resolution by a two-thirds margin on two consecutive meetings which would put a wheel tax to a referendum. He stressed that any increase in the tax rate in the future would again have to go to a referendum. Prior to the meeting, local resident Charles Northern addressed the body in opposition to a wheel tax however he did not provide an alternative proposal for addressing the county's current fiscal situation. Funds are needed for a jail, school building project and road repair. Robbie Mathis showed the members a video which he has proposed to use to promote Cocke County on social media. He previously showed the video to the Cocke County Partnership and the Newport City Council. Mathis has asked the CLB to pay $18,000 toward the project, but the body took no action. The members also re-appointed Mike Johnson to the Cocke County Regional Planning Commission.

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