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Lengthy Session Yields County Commission Budget

The Cheatham County Commission met in regular session Monday night. All members were present.

The meeting began as usual with a public forum, and empassioned pleas from county employees asking commissioners to fund the 10% pay increase that is included in the proposed budget. If approved it will be the first pay increase for those employees in 7 years.

Mayor McCullough reminded commissioners that failure to approve a budget by the third Monday of July (the night the meeting was held) is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by removal from office. “You have a long night ahead of you, and I wish you luck”, he added.

Before commissioners began discussion of the budget, Chairman John Haines reminded the audience that commissioners have listened to what they had to say during budget workshops and previous commission meetings and public forums, “They have been very respectful to you all.” He added, “Now tonight, I’m going to ask that you do the same.”

First up was the fire tax levy motion by Donnie Jordan, second by LuAnn Engelman, no discussion. The vote was 10 yes: Doris Sanders and Betty Ramsey 1st District; Ann Jarreau and Rob Myers 2nd; Dale McCarver and John-Paul Wood 3rd; Donnie Jordan 4th; LuAnn Engelman 5th, and; John Haines and Jimmy Hedgepath 6th to 2 no: David Davidson 5th, Walter Weakley 4th. See inset for fire tax rates.

Also on the agenda was approval of the tax levy. After hours of deliberation and occasional heated argument, commissioners finally succeeded in setting the tax levy at the same rate as last year, $2.78 per $100 of assessed property value. The vote was 11 yes, John-Paul Wood no.

The final approved budget includes:

• In an effort to spur growth, a reduction in the development tax down from $3000 to $50 was approved, as well as in the Adequate Facility Tax, down from $1 per square foot, to .10 per square foot. Those rates will go back up in July 2015 unless the seated commission at that time votes to retain the lower rates.

• a 5% pay hike for county employees;.

• $1.145 for schools, which is the same amount as last year (last week the school board approved a budget that included a $5.4 million increase over last year. The school board held a workshop on Wednesday of this week to adjust their budget. The county commission recessed until July 29th, when they will reconvene to approve the school board’s revised budget.

In other business:

Construction of the Veteran’s Service Office is expected to be completed by this Friday, July 19th. The office is located in the newly renovated Tucker-Empson building in Ashland City. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 2nd at 10a.m.

Mayor David McCullough made 2 appointments to the Cheatham County Port Authority: Pam Jenkins was appointed to a 1 year term, July 15, 2013 – June 30, 2014, to be probably followed with a 3 year term; and reappointment of Gary Binkley for a 3 year term to run until June 30th, 2016. The commission unanimously approved the appointments.

Pleasant View Chief Michael Douglas was appointed to fill the remainder of Shannon Pickard’s spot on the 911 Board. Pickard took the Assistant Director position with 911. The term runs until December 31st, 2013.

The meeting recessed at about 12:15a.m.

The Cheatham County Commission meets the third Monday of each month at 7p.m. in the General Sessions Courtroom in Ashland City.

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