County pay raise sought

Friday, August 5, 2011

County employees will get a 1 percent raise, if the full commission agrees with a recommendation from the budget committee.

"I'd like to see the employees get a raise," said commission chairman Tom Sumners, who's also a member of the budget committee.

The committee agreed with him last week, unanimously voting in favor of Commissioner Mickey King's motion for a 1 percent across-the-board raise.

"You need to find us some more money," King said to budget director Freda Terry.

"I've got it hid back yonder," Terry jokingly replied.

The Solid Waste Department's budget was unanimously approved by the committee, but members expressed concern at the way Solid Waste's fund balance is going down. This can't be helped since host fees paid by Waste Management for the landfill are down 90 percent from their former high point of $150,000 per year. Waste Management suspended disposal at the landfill to avoid filling the space because it's waiting for permission to expand. If the landfill is full, it must start a pre-planned closure program.

"You have to come up with a way to fund this (solid waste) because you have to have it," said Terry.

"He's going to end up in the red," committee chairman Barry Spivey said.

Terry praised Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas's caution.

"He knows the money's tight," she said. "He calls me to make sure he has the funds. He won't spend if there's no money to cover it."

The Highway Department's budget was also approved with a few modifications. Terry reported that the commission's road committee had approved it earlier in the day, with the recommendation that "a penny be added to the tax rate."

"He (road superintendent Jerry Williams) wanted more of the wheel tax," Terry said.

For the benefit of commissioners new to the budget committee there was a short discussion of the $50 "Motor Vehicle Privilege Tax" that Marshall County collects for each vehicle registered. Of that, $40 goes towards debt service on the money borrowed to build the newest schools, $7.50 goes to the county highway department, and the last $2.50 goes to the jail.

The regular Tennessee registration fee is $24, and that is all motorists pay in neighboring Bedford and Giles counties.

Terry reminded committee members that the county still owes $34 million for school construction.

They discussed raising the property tax rate, but King, a former budget committee chairman, recommended waiting until after reappraisal next year.

"What scares me to death is if reappraisal goes down," King said. "Is anything really selling? If things don't turn around..." he said, leaving fellow committee members to imagine the fate of Marshall County.

They were agreed that a lot depends on the school budget.

"It's all to do with the schools," Spivey said.

King concurred.

"The big question is where the schools come in," King said.

The next day, Sumners cautioned, "It all depends what we see come up from them (the school board) Monday night."

The school board was set to meet Monday to approve its budget for 2011-2012, as well as schools director Roy Dukes' organizational chart for the system's Central Office, and the supplement schedule.

If all went according to plan, the commission's budget committee would have a school budget to consider when it met Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., followed by the education committee at 6 p.m., and a possible resumption of the budget meeting after education committeemen were finished.