County Commission Meets in Special Session
Posted on September 10, 2012
The Giles County Commission met in a special called session today in order to vote on appropriations for charitable organizations, the budget, and the tax rate. After four hours, almost everything is now finalized.
The commission voted to allot $4,095 to the New Canaan Ranch as part of the appropriations resolution. After that was passed, they voted 17-4 on appropriating $294,589 to nonprofit charitable organizations.
When the time came to vote on the budget, a motion was made to vote on each line in the budget individually, the first time the commission had done this.
Commissioner Bill Holt suggested that since the commission had asked each department to cut their spending by 10%, that the County Commission should do the same as a gesture of good will towards the public. After a discussion about whether this would place the commissioners themselves under the minimum payment allowed, they finally voted 18-2 in favor of cutting their $52,395 budget by $5,240.
As part of their budget, the Sheriff's Department had asked for a salary increase for the officers who work at the jail. Many of the deputies were present for today's meeting and they heaved huge sighs of relief as their budget barely -and wage increases- passed 11-9.
In addition, $70,000 was allocated for dead animal removal. The ambulance service was moved from the tax row to the general fund. That is to allow them to be further funded by the county when they run out of money in the spring.
Although many items passed unanimously with little or no discussion, many issues were debated. Among these were the school system and industrial development budgets. Many of the commissioners expressed their regret that the school system has had to take so many drastic cuts. Motions were made to reinstate first, five, and then three cents of the eight cents that was taken from the original budget, but both of these motions failed. This would have reinstated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the school budget. Ultimately, the school system budget passed without those reinstatements.
Commissioner Tommy Pollard was adamant that the Industrial Development Committee's budget be cut. According to him, Giles County Economic Development Director Dan Speer's expenses are over $200,000 compared to his Marshall County counterpart's expenses of $8,000. According to Pollard, Speer's expenses include a Country Club membership as well as health insurance, even though he is not a county employee. The County Commission funds $66,650 of this budget and a motion was made to cut that portion to $20,000. The motion tied. County Executive Janet Vanzant would have been the deciding vote, but she had to abstain due to being a member of the committee herself. When the time came to vote on the Industrial Committee's budget as is, the commission voted 12-8 not to fund it. Therefore, the committee will remain unfunded until such time as they call another meeting to discuss it again.
After all of the items were voted on, the time came to vote on the budget as a whole. The commission approved it by a vote of 15-5.
Finally, the commission voted 18-2 in favor of the tax levy. The total doesn't change and remains at 2.771%. After four hours and two failed motions to recess for lunch, the committee adjourned.