County Commission votes on Wheel Tax, tables election primaries
Increase in court cases prompts new full time employee
Highlights of county commission actions
By Steve Short
An increase in criminal cases prompted Gibson Co. leaders to change a part-time clerk position to a full time job in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office.
The change, an over budget expense of $10,950, was approved by county commissioners Jan. 9.
Court Clerk Cindy Flowers requested the position be made fulltime, citing a 57% increase in criminal cases from 2014 to 2016: 2014 – 770 cases; 2015 – 825 cases; 2016 – 1,208 cases.
The court also handled 3,300 traffic cases and 12,000 phone calls. Flowers said employees accumulated 190 hours in comp time due to the bigger workload. She said a fulltime employee retired after many years but was not replaced.
The budget for the part-time job was $21,530. The annual cost of the fulltime position, including taxes and benefits would be $32,480. The request was approved with a 17-7 (1 abstention) vote. Opposing were Budget Chair Mike Longmire, Lynn Nance, Rickey Locke, Bobby Cotham, Dennis Wall, Keith Steele and Sandra Moss.
Highlights of County Commission actions Jan. 9
WHEEL TAX HIKE – Commission voted 17-8 to ask the state legislature to allow the county to raise the wheel tax rate for 4-wheel vehicles from $35.75 fee to $50.75 and increase the wheel tax for motorcycles from $5 to $15.75. All wheel tax revenues would go to the county Highway Dept. A two-thirds majority, or 17 commission votes, was needed. If the state assembly approves a private act, final approval would need at least 17 votes.
ENDING PRIMARY ELECTIONS – Commissioners voted 14-11 to table a proposal to end local election primaries and the requirement that candidates declare political party affiliation. The proposal by the state association of county mayors, would allow candidates to be independent. Eliminating primaries would save the county $40,000. Commissioners discussed requiring election winners to receive a majority vote. County Atty. Floyd Flippin planned to research the legality of requiring a majority. Commissioners discussed asking local school boards to hold their elections in conjunction with county elections. School districts reimburse the county for some election costs, officials said.
NEW COMMISSIONER – Nathan Lewis, a high school teacher who lives near Humboldt, was elected by voice vote with no opposition to replace Donna Bivens as District 6 commissioner.
GAS BOARD ELECTIONS – County Atty. Flippin said the county commission could not change the process that elects members of the Gibson Co. Utility District Board. State law grants the GCUD board authority over its election process. Changing the process would require a Private Act requested by the GCUD board, said Mr. Flippin.
NEW FAIRGROUND BUILDING – Commission approved a $10,000 budget transfer to help pay for a new Fairgrounds building. A 140 ft. X 80 ft. steel building will replace an old pavilion that was in “very bad shape” after repairs over the years. In 2015, the Commission approved a bond issue which included $215,000 for a new building and replacement of old water lines at the Fairgrounds. The Fair Board agreed to pay $10,000 for the projects. The Lashlee-Rich firm would oversee contractors who submitted low bids to do work, said Com. Robin Summers.
CONFISCATED GUNS SOLD – Weapons confiscated by the Sheriff Dept. were auctioned publicly on Dec. 17, producing $17,244 for the department’s budget.
COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT – The county received a $20,737.54 grant from Tenn. Dept. of Homeland Security to upgrade communication equipment and provide handouts to residents.
COURT EQUIPMENT – Commission approved allocating $600 requested by the Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court in Humboldt to purchase and install a wireless router, Wi-Fi range extender and reconfigure the video conference system in the Chancery Court, General Sessions Court and Humboldt Law (Circuit) Courtroom.
DELINQUENT TAXES – Commission approved hiring attorney Jeff Smith and paying him 10% of the principal and interest to file delinquent tax bills and collect delinquent payments for 2015.
ROAD CHANGES – Commission approved an inventory of about 800 county roads and a list of changes made to 14 roads in 2016. Residents have requested improvements for Burrow Lane near Milan and Webb Mann Rd. near Humboldt.