County budget enters the homestretch

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

By Karen Hall


A copy of the county's 2014-2015 budget can be found in today's Tribune, and will be published again on Friday.

County residents are invited to a public hearing on the budget to be held at 4 p.m. Friday, in Room 2209 of the Courthouse Annex, Lewisburg. Then, by law, 15 days must pass before county commission members can vote to pass the budget. Commissioners can thus vote on the budget at their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 22.

Members of the budget committee met for the last time Thursday afternoon, and passed the school budget and the separate food service budget.

"Thank you very much," said Director of School Jackie Abernathy. "We appreciate all you do."

Committee members also agreed to move more money into Highway Superintendent Jerry Williams' construction account so he could do some road repairs that are urgently needed.

Then they voted to approve the county budget as a whole.

Commissioners Sheldon Davis, Anna Childress, Phil Willis, and Dean Delk finished their service on the budget committee at the end of the last day of August. Whether they return to the budget committee depends on what the new commission's nominating committee did when they met Tuesday evening. The chairman of the budget committee, Barry Spivey, did not run for re-election. If there is no budget committee in place, the public hearing will still go ahead, confirmed Assistant Budget Director Heidi McElhaney.

At their previous meeting, on Aug. 14, budget committee members discussed hiring a new budget director.

Doug Bodary of the County Technical Advisory Service went through the applications they received earlier this summer and recommended three candidates for interview. Two showed up and made a good enough impression that committee members moved on to checking their references. Then one was chosen to come to the budget office and work with Bodary to see if she had the necessary aptitude.

The applicant, who is already finance director and recorder in a small Middle Tennessee city, was judged "trainable," so budget committee members decided to offer her the job, starting at the low end of the pay scale, and on six months' probation. After a successful first year, they agreed to buy her the study materials for the Certified Government Financial Manager course and pay for her first sitting of the CGFM exam.

If she passed that, her pay could go up by $5,000 per year, as long as she maintained her certification and continuing education.

Unfortunately, the offer was turned down, so the position is again being advertised, and the best of the applicants will be interviewed by members of the new budget committee in the near future.