MC Commission pro broadband

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Marshall County Commission dipped their toe into state level politics at their Monday night meeting.

The Commission passed a resolution supporting the passage of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act during this year’s Tennessee General Assembly session.

The act, proposed by Governor Bill Haslam, would allow rural electric cooperatives to offer broadband service using the infrastructure they have already constructed to provide electricity.

Thirty-four percent of rural residents in Tennessee do not have access to high speed internet service, which is increasingly identified as a necessity for education or business development in less populated areas of the state.

Commissioner Tony Beyer also briefed the commissioners on the potential impact of Haslam’s gas tax proposal that is also currently under consideration at the state level.

“This isn’t an endorsement,” said Beyer. “This is just for information.”

“As we all know our roads in the county are going to need work going forward, we may be a little behind on doing that,” he said.

Haslam’s proposal, an increase of seven cents on gasoline and 12 cents on diesel, is estimated to increase state road funds for Marshall County from $700,000 upwards to $1,000,000.

The same amount of revenue, if generated by the commission, is equal to 15 to 20 cents at the current county property tax rate.

Beyer said that the state estimates that 40 percent of gasoline taxes are paid by out-of-state residents, passing through the state. “Revenues and expenses are very much on the budget committee’s mind and I’m sure everybody else is,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do some investigating into what we can look forward to on our next budget cycle and I thought this was important.”

Don Nelson, the county’s building and zoning administrator, reported that the commission’s planning committee had recommended an increase in the county’s adequate facilities tax. The one-time tax is levied on new residential or commercial construction as a way to offset the costs of infrastructure construction required from the county utilities.

Currently, revenue is directed to the Board of Public Utilities to fund construction of additional water lines in the county.

The committee recommended 30 cent increases in each category, to one dollar per square foot for residential and 60 cents per foot for commercial construction.

According to Nelson, the contractors and developers he had spoken with supported the increase, understanding the need for additional infrastructure.

Director of the Office of Emergency Management Steve Calahan reported to the commission the county’s recent recognition by the National Weather Service as a StormReady community.

The certification recognizes communities who have demonstrated planning and preparedness for severe weather. Marshall County is one of four counties in the state that have both the county and the school system certified as StormReady, said Calahan.

Commissioners voted to use $3,380,000 from the county’s debt service fund to retire the 2007 Public Improvement bond issue. The budget committee determined that debt obligations could be met for the next year without those funds. Retiring the debt early will save the county close to $1.1 million in interest payments over the next 14 years.

The Commission is seeking to clear as much of the county’s debt as early as possible.

Commissioners also approved a resolution that will be sent to the legislature, that will name a bridge on Highway 31A next to Kennedy Avenue in memory of long-time Cornersville resident Joe E. Owen.