All five DeKalb County Schools will soon have a School Resource Officer.
The county commission, by a vote of 9-4, adopted the 2013-14 consolidated budget during Tuesday night's meeting at the courthouse. The new budget includes funding for four new SROs. Commissioners Jeff Barnes, Mason Carter, Elmer Ellis, Jr., and Jerry Adcock voted no on the budget.
(CLICK PDF LINK BELOW TO VIEW THE NEW 2013-14 CONSOLIDATED BUDGET FOR ALL COUNTY DEPARTMENTS)
The county has been funding one School Resource Officer at the high school for several years. The other four schools in the county have never had an SRO.
Under the spending plan, two of the new School Resource Officers will be funded (salaries and benefits) in the county general budget while the other two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) will be paid for out of the school budget. Money to equip and train all four new SRO officers will be included in the county general budget and the four extra used patrol cars for the officers will be paid for out of the county general's capital projects fund. The officers are to be hired by the sheriff and will work out of his department.
The new SROs will be assigned to Smithville Elementary, Northside Elementary, DeKalb Middle, and DeKalb West School once they have completed training.
In addition to passage of the budget, the county commission voted to keep the property tax rate status quo for the 2013-14 fiscal year at $1.62 per $100 of assessed value. The vote was 12-1. Commissioner Jerry Adcock voted no.
According to County Mayor Mike Foster, plans are in the making this budget year for the development of a Solid Waste transfer station. "It will be in this budget year," said Foster. " We already have funding in place for it. We have saved money through the years to build it but we don't have it in there (budget) yet because we don't have an engineer report on it. We will do a budget amendment to the enterprise fund (when needed). If we don't do a transfer station then we will have to develop a new landfill within the next year because the one we're in will be full by this time next year," said Foster.
Funds to offer health insurance to full time county general employees under the Affordable Health Care Act remains in the county general budget, even though the penalty provision of the federal law will not be enforced this year. The so-called employer mandate, which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide a minimum standard of affordable health insurance, was set to kick in during 2014, but now will take effect in 2015.
The fire department plans to apply for grants to purchase a tanker truck and other equipment. The budget includes a total of $17,500 in local matching funds under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. If awarded, a $12,500 local match (5%) will be required for the purchase of a tanker truck and a $5,000 local match (5%) will be needed for equipment. The fire department budget also includes $6,000 to purchase new pagers to replace some old pagers; $8,000 for reimbursement of in-service training costs for the last half of the fiscal year (after grant funds are exhausted); $23,000 for annual replacement of nine sets of turnout gear and eight breathing cylinders) to avoid a major one-time purchase in the future; and a Capital Project funding request for a one-time expenditure of approximately $20,000 to place a new roof and doors on an existing building at the Main Station.
Two years ago, a step wage scale was adopted for full time employees of the sheriff's department. Last year, a step plan was put in place for full time county general employees. According to County Mayor Foster, a wage scale will be developed later this year for full time employees of the ambulance service. Apparently no other pay raises are budgeted.
Total budget appropriations for the fiscal year 2013-14 come to $42,208,422.
One cent of the tax rate generates $42,953 in local money with a 7.7% delinquency rate figured into the equation.
The proposed tax rate is broken down as follows:
County General: 82 cents
Highway/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects: 10 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
General Purpose Schools: 55 cents.
The solid waste fund, under this budget, will not receive any property tax money but will continue to be supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sale taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax and wholesale beer tax, etc.
Capital projects fund expenses for the year include:
*Motor vehicles (Patrol Cars for Sheriff's Department)- $131, 000 ($50,000 of this amount for 4 used patrol cars for new SRO officers)
*Other equipment (Fire Department Turnout Gear)- $23,000
* Building Improvements (Rescue Squad)- $1,700 (to purchase a roll up door)
*Building Construction (Veterans Building) $30,000 (repairs)
*Building Construction (Omega Building) $68,000 (repairs)
*Building Construction (Courthouse) $50,000 (repairs)
*Building Improvements (Fire Department) $20,000 (place a new roof and doors on an existing building at the Main Station)
*Building Improvements (Rescue Squad) $8,700 (adding shed to cover a boat)
The county commission also adopted a resolution making appropriations of $145,734 to the following non-profit organizations:
DeKalb Sparks Softball- $150
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,411
Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500
DeKalb County Rescue Squad- $16,821
Plateau Mental Health-$7,180
Senior Citizens Program-$26,934
DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$34,062
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$15,000
Imagination Library- $7,200
Genesis House- $1,500
Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center- $1,780
DeKalb County Fair- $1,500
Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200
UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc-$9,245
In other business, the county commission adopted a resolution authorizing the implementation of a five year plan for capital project improvements for DeKalb County.
County Mayor Foster said long term planning for construction projects is in the best interest of the county. The plan may be approved each year with passage of the annual budget. "I need to get two or three things in here for the first year. This is not all. The first year would be to approve the energy efficiency school project (by Johnson Controls) and the school roof (DeKalb West School) not to exceed three million dollars in school bonds; a roof for Omega Apparel (county owned building) not to exceed $80,000; windows for the Veterans Building not to exceed $25,000; Security camera system for the county complex not to exceed $10,000 for the office part. There are other things that should be in there (such as plans for a solid waste transfer station). But these are things we would want to proceed with fairly soon. Some of these (projects) have some grants built into them. We will start working on this each month and upgrading it. This thing requires that each budget have a working plan with what is going to be done within that year," said Foster.
The commission also adopted a resolution to approve the DeKalb County Board of Education Facility Improvement Project Funding Plan. Under the plan, the board will utilize all the energy savings generated by the schools energy efficiency renovation project for payment incurred by DeKalb County for the energy efficiency portion of the debt issued. Additional funds from the Local Purpose Fund (local option sales tax/sinking fund) will be used to repair the roof at DeKalb West School. " What this simply says is the Board of Education will fund the debt service on the energy efficiency part because they will be reaping the benefits of it and the county, through the Local Purpose Fund, will pay for the new roof that is going to be put on DeKalb West School," said County Mayor Foster.