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All DeKalb Students To Again Be Offered Free Breakfasts and Lunches

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Amy Lattimore

All students in the DeKalb County School System, regardless of income, will again this year have access to free breakfasts and lunches when school begins in August.

"Due to the success of the Community Eligibility Provision last school year, the school nutrition program is pleased to continue to provide all school meals at no cost to all students. We hope that parents will continue to support this opportunity by encouraging their students to eat school meals,” said Amy Lattimore, School Nutrition Supervisor.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meals, relying instead on information from other means-tested programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The school system had already been offering free breakfasts under the Universal Breakfast Program but opted into the free lunch program during the fall of 2015 hoping to get more students to participate. Under CEP, the school system is reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students identified as eligible for free meals. To keep the program financially self supporting, the number of students taking part must remain at a higher level.

Auto Dealers Urged to Attend New Dealer Drive-Out EZ Tag Demonstration

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
James L. (Jimmy) Poss

County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss is asking all Auto Dealers in DeKalb County to attend a new Dealer Drive-Out EZ Tag demonstration. This will be conducted Thursday July 28 at 9:30 a.m. in the meeting room adjacent to the UT extension office at the county complex. This new option is available but not currently mandated for all dealers. It has numerous benefits and features for dealerships that will be explained in detail. The customer will still assume a temporary tag fee. However, there is NO software cost to the dealer. Dealers are only responsible for their computer, laser printer and blank synthetic paper required for printing tags. Participating dealers find that the program is fast, efficient, and time saving

Still No Court Filings from County to Have Gate Removed

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Still No Court Filings from County to Have Gate Removed

The county commission last month voted to take a landowner in the Belk Community to court for blocking a county road with a gate. But four weeks later, nothing has yet been filed with the court and members of the county commission and an affected property owner in the area want to know why.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip asked why County Attorney Hilton Conger has not yet filed the lawsuit against the landowner, Grant Manning, seeking an injunction to keep him from having an obstruction (gate) across Sunset Drive which is located off Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community. Not only is the gate still across the road, Atnip said Manning has now put a lock on it.

“We’ve already voted to have the gate removed but now Mr. Manning has locked the gate. Our attorney has done nothing that we find in pursuing what this legislative board said to do to help this situation out so there is still a gate across a county road and now it is locked,” said Atnip.

Bart Lay, another property owner in the area, said he is frustrated that county officials are not doing more to have this gate taken down. “This has been going on for nine months. I have been patient. You voted last month to file an injunction and ask for a temporary restraining order and the case heard. We’re talking about a two or three day process. I don’t know if it’s a personal issue or what is going on but nine months is plenty long enough to wait for this gate to be removed. County officials in my opinion have not done their job,” said Lay.

County Attorney Conger was not present for the meeting Monday night but County Mayor Tim Stribling said he would bring this matter to Conger’s attention.

“The county attorney is not here tonight. He won’t be back until the end of the week. I would assume he will file the lawsuit that we asked him to. But when he gets back in town I’ll make this a point for him to file whatever he has to file that the commission voted on last month,” said Stribling.

Last November, The county commission went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed.

The gate was later taken down but it has been erected again.

Manning disputes the county’s claim that Sunset Drive is a county road and in an email response to WJLE last fall, Manning said the gate had been up for over four years and that he had maintained the road since 1990.

County Attorney Conger met with County Mayor Stribling and the county commissioners in closed session a few days before the regular monthly meeting last month to give them legal advice about what to do in resolving this case going further. The following Monday during the June meeting, Stribling said Conger gave three options; to do nothing and let the affected property owner deal with it himself by possibly filing a lawsuit against Manning; for the county to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction for Manning to remove the gate; or for the county to seek a declaratory judgment from the Chancery Court on whether Sunset Drive is a county road and if so the length and width of the road.

Sixth district commissioner Atnip made a motion last month to exercise the second option for the county to seek a court ordered injunction against Manning. Second district commissioner Joe Johnson offered a second to the motion. Sixth district commissioner Jeff Barnes asked if another solution could be reached to avoid the county having to pay expensive legal fees over this issue. He said the other affected landowner, Lay, has apparently agreed to help develop another road into the area and bypass Sunset Drive if the county would put down the gravel.

But Atnip and Johnson said such action would set a precedent the county might later regret. “Are we going to do that every time somebody blocks a county road? Build another one around it? I think we’d be setting a precedent here. I think we need to go (to court) even if it costs us a little money. We’ve got to stop blocking county roads,” said Johnson.

The county commission adopted Atnip’s motion to take Manning to Court.

Man Sentenced For Crimes Related to Shooting at Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access

July 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
James Paris Goff

A 19 year old man charged in a shooting last year at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

James Paris Goff entered a plea to one count of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault and received a two year sentence to serve. He is to report to jail on August 4. Goff must also make restitution of $1,575 to a victim in the case.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the incident occurred on Monday evening, May 11, 2015 after Goff and some friends arrived by boat to the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. While there, Goff and another man got into a fight. After the altercation, Goff left the area by boat but returned later in a vehicle armed with a handgun. Goff again confronted the same man with whom he had fought earlier and showed him the gun.

Goff then turned the gun on three other people who were leaving the area in an automobile and fired several rounds at them. One of the bullets penetrated the vehicle and struck the rear seat passenger in the back. The driver and front seat passenger were not hit.

After the shooting, Central Dispatch was notified and alerted the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. "We received a call at 7:36 p.m. from central dispatch that a man had been shot at the Austin Bottom Lake Boat Access Area. The shooter and victim had already left the scene prior to law enforcement's arrival. We met officers of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department who responded for mutual aid or backup purposes. We then started an investigation into the shooting. DeKalb EMS was also summoned but they did not transport anyone because the victim was already gone. During the investigation, deputies and detectives from both the DeKalb and Putnam County Sheriff's Departments were able to find the victim at a family member's house in Cookeville. The victim was then taken to the hospital in Cookeville and later transported by ground ambulance to a medical facility in Nashville where he was treated and released. The investigation resulted in the arrest of Goff," said Sheriff Ray.

The two original charges against Goff for aggravated assault were for his confrontation with the first victim and for wounding the other person in the shooting. The original reckless endangerment charges were for Goff's putting the lives of the other two persons in the vehicle in danger by firing shots at them.

The names of the victims were not released.

Two Arrested in Separate Cases of Credit/Debit Card Theft and Fraud

July 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Thomas Bryan Malone
Jennifer Lynn Bullard
Justin Dwayne Spann
Scott Tyler Faulkner
Byron Shone Henry
Ronald Wayne Jernigan, Jr.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has made two recent arrests in separate cases of credit/debit card theft and fraud.

37 year old Thomas Bryan Malone of Lebanon is charged with one count of theft of property under $500 and eight counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit card. His bond is $22,500 and he will make a court appearance on August 11. After being incarcerated Malone was charged with vandalism under $500 for damaging a surveillance camera in his jail cell. His bond on that charge is $2,500 and he will be in court on August 18.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, July 4 Malone allegedly stole a Visa credit card and used it at several businesses on July 4 & 5 to make purchases. According to Sheriff Ray, Malone used the stolen card at the following places: July 4 at Citgo to make a one dollar purchase; July 4 at Citgo for $13.72; July 5 at Opry Mills Factory Nike Outlet for $240.28; July 5 at Zips 2 for $34.83; July 5 at McDonalds for $28; July 5 at Lids Store for $60.06; July 5 at Finish Line Store for $103.78; and July 5 to make a one dollar purchase at a soft drink vending machine.

In the vandalism case, Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 22 while in his jail cell Malone could be seen on video surveillance stepping up onto a bunk bed and then hitting the camera numerous times with his fist causing damage to the camera.

Meanwhile, 33 year old Jennifer Lynn Bullard of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500 and seven counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit card. Her bond totals $12,000 and she will make a court appearance July 28.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 17, 2015 Bullard allegedly stole an SSI debit card and used it at several locations on December 17, 18, & 31 to make purchases. According to Sheriff Ray, Bullard used the stolen SSI card at the following places: December 17 at an ATM in Smithville and took $203.50; December 18 at an ATM in Smithville for $23.50; December 18 at an ATM in Smithville for $203.50; December 18 at Walmart in Smithville for $182.44; December 18 at a Smithville ATM for $17.24; December 18 at Sunco in Smithville for $7.96; and December 31 at a Smithville ATM for $201.75.

27 year old Justin Dwayne Spann of Dickson is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance on July 28. Sheriff Ray said that on November 24, 2015 Spann allegedly took a Cotter Utility Trailer from a location on Sparta Highway. The trailer is valued at $1,500.

37 year old Scott Tyler Faulkner of Nashville is charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is August 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, July 20 Faulkner arrived at the sheriff’s department to visit an inmate. While being checked in at the front desk, Faulkner asked to use the bathroom and then was stopped in the hallway by the jail sergeant for a random search. When the sergeant asked if he had anything in his pockets, Faulkner replied that he had some tobacco and Tylenol. Found in Faulkner’s right lower cargo pants pocket was a package wrapped with black tape which contained loose tobacco, rolling papers, a cigarette lighter, a suboxone strip, 45 red round pills believed to be Acetaminophen (500 milligrams), and three white oval pills thought to be Tizanidine (4 milligrams).

19 year old Byron Shone Henry of Cassville is charged with underage driving while impaired. He is under a $2,500 bond and his court date is August 18. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 22 a deputy was dispatched to Hunt Hollow Road on a complaint of a person, behind the wheel of a white four door car, making threats toward members of the New Frontiers Boys Home. Upon arrival the officer observed a vehicle matching the description pulling out of the Boys Home. The deputy pulled over the automobile and spoke with the driver, Henry who had an odor of alcohol on his person. His eyes were bloodshot. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Henry performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was placed under arrest.

25 year old Ronald Wayne Jernigan, Jr. of Woodbury is charged with driving while revoked. His bond is $2,000 and he will be in court on August 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, July 23 Jernigan was observed operating a vehicle in a public parking lot. A computer check confirmed that his driver license were revoked in Cannon County General Sessions Court for failure to appear in court on June 4.

45 year old David Everette Phillips of Cantrell Road, Smithville is cited for driving on a suspended license, not wearing a seat belt, and for no insurance. His court date is August 10. Sheriff Ray said on Tuesday, July 19 a deputy observed Phillips driving on Highway 56 South and he was not wearing a seat belt. The officer pulled over Phillips and spoke with him. Phillips said he had no insurance on the vehicle. A driver license validation was conducted on Phillips and it revealed his license were suspended.

Mother Indicted for Fetal Assault and Contraband Enters Plea to Lesser Offenses

July 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
 Lindsey Paulette Davenport

A DeKalb County mother indicted last year for fetal assault and later for introduction of contraband (drugs) into a penal institution (jail) appeared for sentencing Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

28 year old Lindsey Paulette Davenport entered a plea to assault and simple possession. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to CPS probation for the assault and 11 months and 29 days to serve at 75% on the simple possession charge. The assault term is to run consecutive to a violation of probation against her. She was given jail credit from December 12, 2015 to July 25, 2016.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on January 21, 2015 Davenport gave birth to a baby boy whose urine tested positive for opiates. Blood drawn from the umbilical cord tested positive for Suboxone, Methodone, and Morphine. The indictment returned against her for assault on a viable fetus stated that "Davenport, between the 1st day of March, 2014 and the 21st day of January, 2015 intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly did cause bodily injury to a viable fetus, by illegally using a narcotic drug while pregnant, and the child was born addicted to and/or harmed by the narcotic drug and the addiction and/or harm was a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant, constituting the offense of assault on a viable fetus."

Meanwhile on Saturday, December 12, 2015 Davenport was arrested on a violation of probation warrant. While in her jail cell, a female correctional officer saw Davenport acting suspiciously. After she was removed, the cell was searched and five suboxone strips and three xanax pills were found. Davenport had produced the drugs while in the cell after apparently having concealed them on her person. Davenport was charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution.

DCHS Basketball Cheerleaders Awarded at UCA Camp

July 26, 2016
DCHS Basketball Cheerleaders
Allison Rogers & Maegan Harris (All-Americans & UCA Staff)
Malia Stanley (Jump-Off Winner)
Maegan Harris (Pin It Forward Recipient)

The DCHS Basketball Cheerleaders recently attended UCA cheerleading camp at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville where they received several individual and team awards.

During the week, they were evaluated and earned 3 gold ribbons (the highest) for chants, home dance and Xtreme routine. They earned a blue ribbon for cheer routine and won the spirit stick every day.

Six girls were nominated for All-American Cheerleader: Allison Rogers, Maegan Harris, Hannah Evans, Amelia Patterson, Brooklynn Estes, and Zoe Maynard. They tried out by performing the Xtreme Routine Dance, the All-American Cheer, and their best jump in front of judges. Allison Rogers and Maegan Harris were selected for the All-American Team.

Malia Stanley won the camp-wide “jump off” competition.

Maegan Harris was pinned by a peer during the “Pin It Forward” portion of awards day as someone who exemplifies what it is to be a cheerleader.

Allison Rogers and Maegan Harris were asked to join the UCA staff.

During the competition portion of camp, the team competed with 20 other teams from around Tennessee. They brought home a first place trophy and 2 second place trophies for band chant, sideline chant, and cheer routine.

Other members of the team include: Hailey Redmon, Olivia Winter, Kaitlyn Bain, Leslie Hembree, Madison Mick, Emily Roehner, Payton Bowman, Haley Dies, Holly Evans, and Grace King.

Hugh Washer Reappointed to DeKalb Utility District Board

July 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Hugh Washer
Danny Bass

Hugh Washer has been appointed to a new four year term on the DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners.

County Mayor Tim Stribling informed the county commission Monday night that he had reappointed Washer to the board. Washer’s current term expires August 31.

By law, the DUD board must certify a list of three names in order of preference to the county mayor, who has the sole authority to make the appointment.

During a recent meeting, the DUD board voted to certify a list of nominees to the county mayor to fill the position. Washer’s name was listed first followed by the names of Paul Blair and Kerry Davis.

Meanwhile the term of Danny Bass, Smith County’s representative on the DUD Board, is also expiring August 31. The DUD board has certified a list of nominees to fill that position. Bass’ name was listed first followed by the names of Bill Woodard and Mike Weaver. The Smith County Mayor will make that appointment to a four year term.

The DUD Board is made up of five members, three from DeKalb County (Jimmy Womack, Joe Foutch, and Hugh Washer), one from Cannon (Roger Turney), and one from Smith County (Danny Bass). The terms are staggered. All terms are for four years.

County Mayor Stribling also announced to the county commission Monday night that he has reappointed James Hodges to another term on the DeWhite Utility District. Other nominees submitted for consideration were Harold Massa and Joshua Holloway.

Second Annual “Purple Out Day” Friday to support Alzheimer’s Tennessee

July 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Second Annual “Purple Out Day” Friday to support Alzheimer’s Tennessee

Statewide “Purple Out Day” to support Alzheimer’s Tennessee THIS Friday, July 29

Alzheimer’s disease impacts Tennessee families in every county from West to East, and now Court Clerks across the state, including DeKalb County’s Circuit Court Clerk, Katherine Pack, are showing their support by participating in the second annual statewide “Purple Out Day” benefitting Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a not-for-profit organization.

“Seeing our state turn purple to show support to the hundreds of thousands of families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is incredibly powerful. I know many understand what it’s like to slowly lose a loved one to this brain disease that steals both memories and dignity. I hope our loved ones will inspire all of us to come together again and make this month’s Purple Out Day even more memorable," said DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack

From Memphis to Mountain City, as many as 205 Court Clerks and their deputy clerks are planning to wear purple and participate in “Purple Out Day” on Friday, July 29, 2016 to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and related dementias as well as raise funds to support the work of Alzheimer’s Tennessee. The state’s Registers of Deeds are officially on board this year for the event that started turning courthouses, justice centers, businesses and communities purple last year. Pack has already made a personal donation of at least $50 and has invited each deputy clerk in the office to make a $5 donation.

“If the public would like to pitch in, and other court clerks in the state make similar donations, together we can raise more than the $25,000 we contributed last year to help Alzheimer’s Tennessee continue to expand its services and provide invaluable support to all families across the state ,” said Pack. “Everyone is encouraged to wear purple on Friday, July 29, 2016 for our state’s ‘Purple Out Day’”.

Here's how YOU can help “Purple Out” the State:

1) Start by wearing purple on Friday, July 29.
Be sure to take pictures and share your purple pride. Post your photos at ww.facebook.com/AlzTN.

2) Learn about Alzheimer's disease. Every minute someone in America is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. More than 110,000 Tennesseans are facing the disease and that number is growing. Court Clerk offices across the state have educational materials from Alzheimer's Tennessee to help you learn about Alzheimer's and related dementias. For more information go to www.alzTennessee.org.

3) Make a donation.
Along with displaying your purple spirit we hope you will consider supporting Alzheimer's Tennessee's mission with a donation. Please make checks payable to Alzheimer's Tennessee. You may bring your donation to your Court Clerk’s office or mail it directly to the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Main office at 5801 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37919. To make an online donation go to http://www.alztennessee.org/donate

Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact at least 110,000 Tennesseans, the Board of Directors for the State Court Clerks Association of Tennessee voted to adopt and support Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a Tennessee-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization that provides support services, promotes brain health through education, and champions research for better prevention and treatment strategies. Court clerks had the opportunity to learn more about the disease at their annual conferences. Information about Alzheimer’s and related dementias will be available to the public through court clerk offices and at www.alzTennessee.org or by calling toll-free statewide 888.326.9888.

About Alzheimer’s Tennessee:
Alzheimer’s Tennessee is an independent 501c3 not-for-profit organization that has been based in Tennessee since 1983 and has the following mission: To serve those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, to promote brain health through education, and to champion global prevention and treatment efforts. Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. coordinates support groups and answers HelpLine calls for resource referrals and information, offers community and professional education, advocates for the needs and rights of those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and funds research. For more information locally, call 888.326.9888.or visit www.alzTennessee.org

County Commission Adopts Budget (VIEW ENTIRE BUDGET HERE)

July 25, 2016
Dwayne Page
County Commissioners

The county commission Monday night adopted the new $42.4 million consolidated budget for the 2016-17 year which includes salary increases and a new wage scale for most county general employees.


DeKalb-FINAL 2017 Budget 6-28-16.pdf (478.88 KB)

The vote to approve the budget was adopted 11-2. Commissioners Betty Atnip and Bradley Hendrix voted against it.

Salaries established under the new wage scale for employees of the County Mayor, Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master will be tied to what these county public officials earn. The plan also includes five step increases for these employees with them being eligible to earn up to 44% of their employer’s salary at level five and after eight years of service. But since the county mayor’s salary is $10,000 more than the other six aforementioned officials, his employees will earn more than their clerks and those public officials (Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master) have been and remain opposed to this part of the plan. There are a total of sixteen employees in these offices combined. Based on their level on the new wage scale and their years of service, two of these employees will get a raise this year of $961; two will get a $1,058 increase; one will be raised by $1,254; three will see a raise of $1,906; six will get an increase of $2,265; one will earn $5,206 more; and one will get a raise of $6,712. And because their salaries are tied to a percentage of what their bosses are paid, clerks in these seven offices will get an automatic pay hike funded by the county every time the state grants a pay raise for the county’s public officials. Sheriff’s Department employees are not included in this new pay plan because the county already has a separate wage scale in place for them.

Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip spoke out against the new pay plan as it relates to tying these clerk’s raises to their bosses salaries. “I just want to go on record. It’s totally wrong. I don’t get mine based on that and I don’t know of any company that bases their raises on that. I’m totally disappointed in it,” she said.

“You hit it on the head. It’s not a company. It’s a government entity,” replied Fourth District Commissioner and Budget Committee Chairman Wayne Cantrell, who supports the new pay plan.

“That’s right. And it should be paid according to how someone works. Not by their boss’s (salary). Your boss has nothing to do with the way you work,” answered Atnip.

“This is not the only county that does that,” Cantrell said.

“It’s not right for DeKalb County either,” Atnip replied.

“That’s your opinion,” answered Cantrell

“An its very obvious how you stand,” Atnip said.

“The people made a big change two years ago in these seats with a big turnover because they were tired of the way things were done up here. And they’re not getting any better in the two years that I have been on here. I just want the people to know that one person cannot do a whole lot with the attitudes that are here,” Atnip continued.

“What we could do is just leave it (salaries) like it is and base it on what the Social Security increase is every year. That is what mine is based on,” said Fifth District Commissioner Jerry Adcock.

“The situation is no matter what we would have done somebody is not going to be happy. I disagree with the percentile but that’s not my committee. We have entrusted the budget committee to make that decision and bring it before this board and we make those decisions to pass it. I disagree with it but I trust my budget committee to make the decision for this governmental body. Therefore I’m probably going to pass this (vote in favor) because we’ve got to pass the budget so we can move on with our county government,” added Fifth District Commissioner Anita Puckett.

Again the budget which includes this new wage scale was approved on an 11-2 vote.

Salary increases are also included for the Library Director, Election Commission Office employee, and Soil Conservation Secretary. They will be paid on the same aforementioned five step wage scale with them being entitled to earn up to 44% of what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn at level five after eight years of service. Salaries of the Senior Citizens Director and the full time library employees will also be tied to the public officials (noted above)and they too will be on a five step scale with them being able to earn up to 37% of what these officials are paid at level five and after eight years of service.

All part-time County General Employees will be paid $10.00 per hour. Custodians will get a 2.158% increase in pay and the director of the Landfill will receive a salary of $42,000 per year. Landfill employees with a commercial drivers license will get $13 to $16 per hour and Landfill laborers will receive $12 to $15 per hour based on their years of service from one to seven years. Convenience Center employees will earn $8.50 per hour.

Employees of the ambulance service will get a 4% pay raise. The EMS Director will not receive a raise this year since his position was budgeted a $2,000 increase last year.

County Road Department employees will also see pay raises this year.

As part of the budget adoption process, the county commission set the new certified property tax rate at $1.83 per $100 of assessed value. The vote was 12-1. Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip voted no.

The latest five year reappraisal cycle was recently completed in DeKalb County and it showed an overall drop in assessments (property values). As a result, the new certified property tax rate, as established by the State Board of Equalization for the 2016-17 fiscal year will be increased from $1.78 to $1.83 per $100 of assessed value but it is expected to generate the overall same amount of property tax revenue for the county government as it did this past year prior to the reappraisal. Although the certified tax rate is increasing to $1.83, it doesn’t necessarily mean that property owners will pay more. That depends on whether their property assessments went up or down or stayed the same.

The new $1.8335 certified rate will break down as follows:
County General: .9535 cents
Schools: 61 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
Road Department: 4 cents
Capital Projects Fund: 11 cents.

Other budget highlights include the following:

The county clerk’s office will be getting a new part time employee position. The County Clerk had sought one additional full time employee but his request was countered by the budget committee with a part time employee not to exceed 20 hours a week at $10.00 per hour and additionally contingent on the clerk cutting $5,000 from the previous year expenditures to help fund the position.

In an effort to shore up revenues in the EMS budget to help fund the operation, ambulance service billing rates were increased, effective July 1. The Basic Life Support rate has gone from $350 to $500. The rate for Advance Life Support has increased from $450 to $600 and the Advance Life Support 2 fee has jumped from $650 to $700. Mileage charges have also increased from $10.50 per mile to $12.00 per mile. The new rates are more in line with what other counties in the area charge.

A new ambulance will be purchased during the year. A total of $130,000 is included in the capital projects fund for this purchase.

The county has entered into a one year contract with a new company to provide inmate health care at the jail. Advanced Correctional Healthcare will take over the service from Southern Health Partners as of August 29. Although the new company’s services are more expensive, $204,000 per year compared to $175,000 for Southern Health Partners, Sheriff Patrick Ray said he believes the county will save money in the long run by having healthcare practitioners at the jail more often which could prevent taking inmates on unnecessary trips to the emergency room of the hospital for more costly treatment. The county will also be purchasing and equipping five new patrol cars on the state bid contract. The cars will come with warranties. A total of $159,000 is included in the capital projects fund for this purchase.

Last year the county commission set aside $25,000 as seed money for the eventual development of a new fire hall in the Four Seasons Community. This year another $50,000 has been set aside for a total of $75,000 for this project. The county will also be funding a 5% local match for a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) which has been approved in the amount of $70,895 to purchase personal protective equipment (turnout gear) and a thermal imaging camera for the fire department. This equipment will serve all 11 of the department’s stations across the county. The Federal share of this award is $67,520 and the local matching share, to be provided by the DeKalb County Government, is $3,375. The department has also applied for another FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant for the purchase of a new Quint fire engine with a 75 foot aerial device. The total project cost is $554,929 including equipping the truck. If approved, the county will have to fund a 5% match or $27,746.

The budget for the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad has been increased by $6,000 this year to $22,821. Plans are to use the extra funds to pay for diving equipment, to provide certified diver training among members, and if funds are available by the end of the year to offer a small gas allowance for members. The Rescue Squad also plans to have future fundraisers to raise money to obtain a pontoon boat to aid in water rescue and recovery.

A total of $9,000 has been budgeted to be divided among six county owned ball fields at $1,500 each to make improvements. This is a one time expense.

Plans are to make the transition from the existing Class 1 landfill to the new solid waste transfer station perhaps by September or October. A total of $600,000 has been budgeted for the post closure of the Class 1 cell and for the development of a new Class 3 cell which will be used for non-household solid waste such as construction material, etc. A total of $100,000 is included in the capital projects fund to purchase a new skidsteer/backhoe. The county has also budgeted $150,000 to purchase a loader. In August, 2014 the county commission voted to enter into a five year contract with Smith County to dispose of DeKalb County's household solid waste at the rate of $29.00 a ton after the transfer station becomes operational. The county has not yet bid the actual hauling of the waste to Smith County.

The new school budget includes $258,000 from the state to cover pay raises for certified staff. That amounts to about a $1,000 increase per employee. Plans are to give a local $500 pay raise to members of the support staff/non certified personnel. The Board of Education budgeted an increase for themselves in the per diem each member receives for attending regular meetings and work sessions. Currently, board members get $50 per regular meeting and $15 per work session. The increase will put their pay more in line with the county commission, members of which receive $150 per regular meeting and $75 per committee meeting/workshop. This budgetary line item in the school spending plan has increased from $6,000 to $18,900 for the year.

Other new spending in the school budget includes:

*Funding for two and a half new positions including a new Math and RTI (Response to Intervention) teacher at DCHS and an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

*Funding for an additional Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School

*Funding to add a new SED (special education) teacher

*Funding to address inequities in supplement pay for DCHS football, basketball, and cheer coaches

*Funding to purchase one new school bus (instead of two buses)

*Funding for a new Soccer Field at DCHS

Third District Commissioner Bradley Hendrix said he voted against the budget partly because of the school’s boards commitment to spend up to $50,000 to develop a new soccer field at the high school when the same commitment has not been put toward other sports. “I’ve gotten phone calls over the soccer field, the $50,000. The school board hasn’t put in for the new girls softball field at the middle school. They haven’t put in for the high school football facilities. The training room and stuff like that. I don’t know what makes the soccer more important than these other sports. Just on that I’m going to vote no on the budget,” said Hendrix.

The new budget and tax rate take effect immediately.


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