Budget process starts in county

Friday, May 16, 2014

By Karen Hall


Groups who are trying to improve the quality of life in Marshall County visited the meeting of the Economic and Community Development/Tourism committee Tuesday to ask for extra money for their projects.

Mike Tatum of the Marshall County Youth Baseball and Softball League announced that they have been awarded the 12-year-old boys Cal Ripken Southeast Regional Tournament, which will take place from July 22 to 30, bringing thousands of extra dollars to the county. There will be 10 or 12 teams from eight states playing, including, possibly, a team from the Bahamas.

The league has already made many improvements to the park, Tatum said, mostly doing the labor themselves so their only cost was the materials for projects like moving the outfield fence back 30 feet. Now they have a list of must-do and want-to-do items, and Tatum was sent to ask if ECD/Tourism could help out financially. The must-dos include paying the fee for the tournament, making banners for the field, hosting a picnic for players and coaches, paying for rooms for umpires, and treating the fields with weed killer and fertilizer and top-dressing them with sand.

On the want-to-do list are a pavilion and a deck for the press box.

Gina Jones came to the meeting on behalf of the City of Lewisburg's Goats Music and More Festival. The festival, including top musical entertainment, like this year's Joe Diffie and the Marshall Tucker Band, is totally free. People come from all over Tennessee and surrounding states, and spend money all over the county.

"This will be our 12th year," Jones said. "The costs keep going up. We're requesting $2,500, or whatever you could donate. We've put ourselves on the map for the goat industry, and it's a good thing in general for the whole county."

Marshall County Youth Football League was represented by Treasurer Laura Estes.

"The league has been in existence here for 40 years," she said. "We teach the basics of football and cheer to 5 to 12 year olds."

Now, with the new concussion laws, Estes went on, the League needs $10,000 to $12,000 to replace all its helmets. They are actively fundraising and applying for grants, but would still appreciate any money that was available from ECD/Tourism.

In response to questions, Estes explained that the Cornersville and Chapel Hill youth football leagues are separate from MCYFL; though they were part of it at the beginning, which is why it's not called the "Lewisburg League."

Next up were Lewisburg Downtown Alliance board members Ken Todd and Sarah Coutu.

"You helped us out last year, and let us complete the season," said Todd, who went on to say LDA has monthly events planned for July, August and September.

"We're requesting $3,000 for the final three events," he said. "We're trying to build a tradition, and give the community something to do one day a month. We're trying to promote local arts and crafts, vendors and food. We feel we've had an influence in improving the square."

All of the people who came to the meeting personally were assured the ECD/Tourism committee would think seriously about their requests, and possibly put funding for them in the 2014-2015 budget.

Those who did not attend did not fare so well.

Committee Chairman Seth Warf said he'd had a request for $300-$400 for Belfast Day, an all-day event planned for June 28, and thus needing funds from this year's budget.

"Do we have the money?" asked committee member Don Ledford.

"We have $1,400 in undesignated funds," replied Warf.

"I'd like to know a little more about what they are," said Ledford. "Why are they doing this, and what are they hoping to accomplish? There are a lot of unanswered questions. I can't support it based on what I know now."

"It would have been nice if she'd been able to show up," agreed Warf. "We could discuss it at our next meeting if it's prior to their event."

Later, the next meeting was agreed for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29.

The Sheriff's Department budget was also discussed this week, when the Law Enforcement committee met Wednesday night.

Sheriff Norman Dalton gave committee members figures that showed the department was bringing money into the county's general fund, thanks to payments from the state for housing prisoners.

"In four years you'll have the jail paying for itself," exclaimed committee member Nathan Johnson.

"That's my goal," agreed Dalton.

His budget shows funding for an additional School Resource Officer for the elementary schools.

"We do have parents out there requesting it," he said.

Johnson predicted problems getting the county commission to agree to another SRO, but agreed they should try.

"It's a pretty lean budget," said Johnson, and committee member Barry Spivey noted the increase over last year was just 1.8 percent.

Spivey suggested moving the Sheriff's budget on to the budget committee, and this was unanimously agreed.