County finally has a budget, and a budget director

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

By Karen Hall


Marshall County at last has an approved budget for the fiscal year from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. All 18 county commissioners and a roomful of spectators attended the commission's September meeting Monday night.

"This is great turnout," said Chairman Mike Waggoner at the start of the meeting. "I think I know what you're all here for, and I hope it goes your way."

Resolutions fixing the tax rate; "making appropriations for the various funds, departments, institutions, offices and agencies of Marshall County" -- in other words, the budget; and a resolution making appropriations to non-profit charitable organizations all passed.

"I'd like to thank Heidi (McElhaney) and the staff," said budget committee chairman Sheldon Davis when the votes were completed.

The rules were then suspended so Davis could bring a resolution asking commissioners to approve the appointment of the committee's chosen candidate for the job of Director of Accounts and Budget, and this received a unanimous "yes" by voice vote.

"Welcome, Melinda White," said Waggoner, and this was greeted by applause.

White impressed budget committee members at her interview last week. She has been in accounts, budgets and auditing all her working life, including long periods in different departments for the state of Tennessee. White is currently deputy budget director in Giles County, where the schools' budget department has been combined with the county's. This can be extra demanding on the department when the schools take on 50 new hires over the summer and they all have to be processed in time for school to start in August.

"It was a team effort to get it all entered," White said.

In response to another question, White said Giles County had zero "findings" in their 2013 audit.

"We were pleased," she said. "It was a team effort. It was a challenge to get it back the way it should be."

This year Giles County passed its school budget in April and the county budget in June, and closed the books on the preceding fiscal year at the end of July, so perhaps Marshall County can look forward to a similar performance next year.

White told budget committee members she would be able to start after her two weeks' notice period, so she should be in the budget office just in time for Assistant Director Heidi McElhaney to go on maternity leave.

"I was pretty well impressed with her," said commissioner Tony Beyer, when the committee reconvened the day after the interview to consider White's salary.

"I'm the same way," agreed Davis.

"I heard things from her that would benefit this county," added commissioner R.L. Williams.

"I think you've done Marshall County a huge favor," said Beyer, after committee members voted unanimously to offer White the pay she requested.

"You've done me a huge favor," exclaimed McElhaney.

In other business Monday, commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to name the bridge over Sanders Creek on State Route 11 after James William "The Bridge Builder" Tallman of Cornersville.

"I appreciate it," said Tallman as commissioner E.W. Hill gave him a framed copy of the resolution. "I'm going to continue as long as I can."

County Attorney Bill Haywood was retained for another year, though Davis voted "no" because he thought it was the commission's intention to advertise the job and give other local attorneys a chance to fill it.