No drastic cuts or enhancements are currently included in the proposed Fiscal Year 2020-21 Lincoln County budget based on the uncertainty of how revenues will be impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
County Finance Director Cole Bradford told 21 of the 24 county commissioners participating in Tuesday night’s audio board meeting made necessary by the Governor’s Executive Order 16 that adjustments to the almost $60 million budget can be made once officials have a better grasp of the pandemic over the next several months, adding that the Board of Education, all county department heads and the budget committee are in agreement to this approach.
A copy of the proposed budget was published in the Wednesday, May 20, 2020 edition of The Elk Valley Times.
During the finance director’s report, he highlighted portions of the various funds where some revisions had been made, such as the General Fund Balance, Solid Waste, Highway/Public Works and General Debt Service Fund.
The Board of Education’s budget calls for the purchase/lease of 1,800 Chrome student devices, 420 teachers’ laptops and accessories, none of which requires new money. The student devices will be leased for three years based on market value and teachers’ laptops will be spread out over a four-year lease.
These highlighted portions did not require any action by commissioners
In a telephone interview with Bradford on Thursday, he said it wasn’t wise “to add a lot of extra spending to the budget since he does anticipate some impact” in sales tax receipts, gross receipts from business taxes and investment income, to name a few.
“Sales tax was up 2.5 percent in March compared to 2019. People were buying more than usual,” Bradford said, adding that between now until late June, “we anticipate it to be down.”
Nonetheless, the base budget reflects “no growth. It could come in higher or lower; we just wanted to be conservative. Then we will see what April looks like.”
The Budget Committee will meet Tuesday, June 2, 2020, for a public hearing to consider the proposed budget and to conduct regular business for June. However, the public will not have access to attend in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The public can participate in the public hearing by emailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, mail them to 112 Main Avenue South, Room B1 04, Fayetteville, TN 37334 or by contacting Dena Gentry at 931-438-1565, extension 1002 to obtain a dial-in number for the public hearing.
An audio or video recording of the meeting will be made available to the public with 48 hours at www.lincolncountytngov.com under meeting, then click “media.”
In other business, Mark Bolden was reappointed to the Lincoln County Board of Utilities with his term expiring June 2023.
Planning & Zoning Director Nancy Harris has called for public hearings to be held on June 16 relative to access for public streets or private roads and for fences and walks.
Under New Business, Commissioner Kate Guin asked commissioners to reject the low bid by Freeland Automotive, located in Antioch, Tn., to purchase five vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department and accept the high bid from Brannen Chevrolet, which is Fayetteville Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Cost of the low bid was $33,400 each, while the high bid came in at $35,180 for each vehicle, for a total difference of $8,900.
“Due to the shut down of General Motors Freeland doesn’t have vehicles in stock,” Guin stated. Since the bid specification require that a dealership have the vehicles in stock, she made the motion to “reject the low bid and go with Brannen so the Sheriff’s Department can have these vehicles in a timely manner.”
The commissioner said that it takes months for the vehicles to be outfitted but bids are required to be submitted in June.
Commissioner Anthony Taylor seconded the motion that requires an adjustment to the budget. The motion was approved by the 21 commissioners present with three members absent.
At the beginning of the meeting, County Mayor and chairman of the Board of Commissioners Bill Newman expressed sympathy at the death of Darren Walker, who valiantly fought cancer. “He was special to this community and to the county,” Newman said.
Under Tennessee Code Annotated 8-48-101, the county has 120 days to fill the vacancy. While the August 6 State Primary and County General Election falls within that timeframe, Newman suggested that commissioners appoint someone to this District 1 seat so constituents won’t be without representation for the next three mo