Money must last three years, not two

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From staff reports

Marshall County commissioners on Monday unanimously adopted several resolutions concerning spending and money management.

By unanimous vote, the commission verified its intent to have County Highway Superintendent Jerry Williams spend-down a $1 million appropriation from borrowed funds over three years instead of two.

Williams sought a resolution several days before the September meeting to authorize spending last year and this year, but commissioners on the budget committee indicated the money for maintenance should last three years.

Discussion that night of Sept. 22 indicated that Williams had already spent more than half of the $1 million raised from a bond sale - borrowed money.

The unanimous vote included that of Commissioner Phil Willis, an employee of the Highway Department who read, as required, a statement declaring the apparent conflict of interest, but stating that the vote was cast in good conscience and for the welfare of the county.

A fiscal services contract was authorized by commissioners so they'd have professional advice when they might want to sell more bonds to borrow more money for projects or to refinance debt. Local governments have been refinancing debt as the money market has had historically low interest rates.

The county's fiscal agent is now Guardian Advisors, LLC of Cane Creek Road in Hohenwald.

Also Monday, commissioners authorized the county's Health and Safety Standards Board to hire a contractor to "remedy high grass... health and safety issues at 4770 Thick Road, Chapel Hill" where Commissioner Dean Delk said conditions had become a public concern.

"This is something we've been needing to do," Delk said, explaining that while the Health and Safety Standards Board could require action, there was no enforcement authority.

The law, he said, was "without teeth," and the resolution was "to give teeth" to the board.

"We've asked and asked and asked," he said. "It's time to bite."

Commissioner Richard Hill asked if the property owner could be made to pay for the cost of mowing and Delk said yes.

Commissioner Mickey King confirmed that liens could be placed against the property if payment was not forthcoming.

Also Tuesday, a debt management plan was adopted on a motion by Commissioner Barry Spivey, chairman of the budget committee. The plan is required by the state.

Another resolution was adopted to officially authorize County Trustee Marilyn Ervin to accept partial payment on property tax bills. The practice has been on-going for years, but the association of trustees recommended commissions' vote to support the practice.