Local News Articles

County Commission Set To Adopt Budget & Tax Increase

September 25, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission is expected to set the property tax rate and adopt a new budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year tonight (Monday).

The new fiscal year officially started July 1st, but the county has delayed passage of a new budget, partly because of the sales tax referendum, which was put before the voters and was defeated in the August General Election.

The commission must pass a budget by October 1st, or risk losing state funds or having the state set a budget and tax rate for the county.

County Mayor Mike Foster says county government needs a tax increase to operate this year and had the sales tax referendum passed in August, the size of any proposed property tax increase would not be as large as it is now.

The Budget Committee has met several times over the summer trying to whittle down the size of the proposed tax increase and has finally settled on 39 cents, down four cents from the previous proposal of 43 cents.

Foster says the budget committee will request that the county commission adopt a property tax rate of $1.90, a 39 cent increase over last year.

Here's how the proposed tax rate would break down:

County General- 67 cents, a six cent increase
Schools- 73 cents, an eleven cent increase (plus $950,000 from the special school sinking/sales tax fund)
Debt Service- 29 cents, a nineteen cent increase (includes $771,000 to service the Northside School Debt and funds to service debt on the jail and landfill)
Highways- 3 cents (to recoup $216,000 in lost state funds and to purchase a loader at rock crusher)
Solid Waste- 18 cents

Even with some growth this year and a 39 cent tax increase, Foster says the county may still have to dip into the reserves to make it through the year. \" The 39 cents will actually impact the reserves just a little. The 43 cents is really what we needed to balance and that's what the budget committee was trying to do. We had really good growth this year. The appraisals grew by $72-million which will generate about $260,000 in new money which is a big impact on our county. Hopefully, we will get that kind of growth again next year. If we do, that will about get us back to where we need to be.\"

Foster says the school system will get more money than last year, with an eleven cent tax increase, but not as much as the 13 cent tax increase the school board had requested. \"The school budget is about $15.8 million dollars and of that, there was about $70,000 in monies cut from it, a little bit here and a little bit there, but there are no jobs at risk. It was a cut in the amount of money they requested. There is ample money in there to cover maintenance of effort and then some.\"

Foster says efforts have been made to make cuts from every department. \"It's really a complex thing. I'm fairly conservative and most of the commission is fairly conservative, but there are legal things you've got to do such as meeting maintenance of effort with the schools (not spending less than last year) and maintenance of effort with the sheriff's department in that you can't cut any employee position or salary without the sheriff's permission. We did cut one position this year with the sheriff's permission. Actually, we've got one less employee there (sheriff's department) than we had last year.\"

\"There are so many federal and state guidelines that we absolutely have to meet. For example, it (state/federal government) says you must pick up and dispose of garbage. It doesn't say how you do it. Of course, traditionally DeKalb County has had a solid waste disposal/landfill and now there has to be a new cell built. We're in the process of building it and a big part of it (project) will come this year because the one (cell) that's there now will be full by Christmas. That's a necessity. There were no extra funds put in this year. The landfill operation is basically the same as it was six years ago. The big deal is the new cell.\"

In addition to meeting the maintenance of effort requirements, Foster says county government has to account for other expenditures that are on the rise. \" School maintenance of effort requires that you spend no less money that you did last year. Then the state gives some raises with state money but they also about double the contributions that we must make to retirement. Our workers comp, liability, and all those insurance costs went up as well as the cost of fuel and the health care program.\"

Foster says the county has also budgeted small pay raises for county employees, both full time and part time.\" They still, on average, make a little less than ten dollars an hour and some of them, the part-timers, make maybe $6.50 an hour.\"

A public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. followed by the county commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Monday) at the courthouse. WJLE will broadcast the meeting LIVE.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests In Local Burglaries

September 25, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made three arrests in two recent home break-ins.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 23 year old Thomas Jacob Sims of 165 Lakeside Drive, Smithville and 19 year old Jennia Lee Wilson of 1677 Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown are charged in connection with a break-in at a residence on Vandergriff Hollow off Dry Creek Road during the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 20th.

Entry was made through a back door and several items were stolen including a computer, drill, answering machine, candles, personal care items, and a BOSE AM/FM CD radio, valued at over $1,000.

Sheriff Ray says the intruders even cooked a meal and ate before they left.

Sims is charged with aggravated burglary, a first offense of driving on a suspended license, and theft over $1,000.

Wilson is also charged with aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000

Meanwhile, 34 year old Lori Kilgore of 775 Dr. Jennings Road, Rock Island is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and aggravated burglary in a break-in on September 16th at a residence on Blue Springs Road, in which some jewelry was stolen. She will appear in General Sessions Court October 12th.

In another case, 47 year old Tim Cantrell of 463 White Oak Drive was charged last Tuesday with four counts of prescription fraud.

Sheriff Ray says Cantrell allegedly passed a forged prescription for hydrocodone at four local pharmacies between September 4th and 16th. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on the charges October 12th.

County Commission Adopts New Budget With 39 Cent Property Tax Hike

September 25, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Your property tax rate is going up.

The DeKalb County Commission, by a vote of 8 to 6, Monday night adopted the new budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year totaling $29,145, 066 and set a new property tax rate of $1.90 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 39 cent increase.

Two votes were taken, one on the budget and another on the tax rate. Both passed by an 8 to 6 vote.

Those voting in favor of both the new budget and tax rate were John Green, Jack Barton, Bobby Joines, Jerry Scott, Wayne Cantrell, Chris Smithson, Marshall Ferrell, and Larry Summers.

Commissioners voting against were Mason Carter, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Randy Caplinger, Jeff Barrett, Jeff Barnes, and Willie Thomas.

The tax rate breaks down as follows:
General Fund- 67 cents
Solid Waste- 18 cents
Debt Service- 29 cents
Highways- 3 cents
General Purpose Schools-73 cents

The budget breaks down as follows:
General Fund- $5,053, 229
Courthouse & Jail Maintenance- $89,150
Local Purpose Fund- $1,092,723
Drug Control- $58,430
Highways- $2,050,978
General Purpose Schools- $15,810,490
School Cafeteria Fund- $1, 088, 037
Debt Service- $1,446,575
Capital Outlay- $140,870
Solid Waste- $2,314,584 (Includes a six year note for up to $1,225,000 to build a new cell at the landfill)

The commission also adopted a resolution to provide funding to various non-profit groups including:

Prospect Incorporated- $12,500
Senior Citizens Program- $17,500
UCHRA- $1,200
Plateau Mental Health- $7,180
Chamber of Commerce- $7,500
Genesis House- $1,500
UCDD- $3,411.36
Families First- $750
Tennessee Division of Forestry- $1,500
Rescue Squad- $11,500
Soil Conservation District- $19,500

A public hearing was held prior to the commission meeting but only a few spoke out against the proposed tax increase.

County Commission Reluctantly Votes To Pay Comp Time To 32 People

December 31, 1969
by: 
Dwayne Page

The County Commission, by a vote of 9 to 5 Monday night, reluctantly voted to pay more than $100,000 in accrued comp time to a total of 31 employees who worked for former Sheriff Lloyd Emmons and one employee of former Trustee Bobbie Young.

The measure was approved on the second roll call vote. It failed 10 to 4 on the first roll call.

County Mayor Mike Foster told the commission that the money had to be paid by Friday, or the county could risk having to pay penalties. \" We have been meeting with the Federal Fair Labor and Wage people for the last three or four weeks. He told us we should pay these amounts by this Friday or we will be under a penalty.\"

Foster says in most cases, the employees are clearly due the money because they have the proper documentation. \"Some of them are very clear cut and we absolutely owe them. Some of them we may need to question further. Many of these people have good time sheets and need to be paid, but there are some we need to have an attorney look at.\"

Foster says three cents of the 39 cent tax increase or $115,000 has been included in the new budget to pay the comp time, yet he still wanted the commission to give him approval.

On the first roll call, ten commissioners voted against making the payment including Willie Thomas, Larry Summers, Marshall Ferrell, Jeff Barnes, Jeff Barrett, Wayne Cantrell, Randy Caplinger, Bobby Joines, Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Mason Carter.

Those voting in favor were John Green, Chris Smithson, Jerry Scott, and Jack Barton.

After the vote failed, Foster told the commission while he agreed with their decision, they must face facts that the money must be paid.\" Friday morning, if we don't pay this, we will incur a 10% penalty that will incur on a regular basis. If we go to court, they told us it would cost probably $200,000 and if we should not prevail, these people would be paid three times what this amount is for.\"

County Attorney Hilton Conger agreed saying, \" The problem is the auditor has come in and he has verified it and he says you owe it. If you go to court, it's a losing proposition.\"

Realizing they had no other alternative, the commission voted 9 to 5 on the second roll call vote, to make the payments.

Those voting in favor were John Green, Jack Barton, Marshall Ferrell, Jeff Barrett, Chris Smithson, Jerry Scott, Bobby Joines, Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Mason Carter.

Commissioners voting against were Willie Thomas, Larry Summers, Jeff Barnes, Wayne Cantrell, and Randy Caplinger.

The names of the persons and the amounts owed are as follows:

Boyd Atnip- $2,947.84
Gayle Bowling- $2,840.32
Milton Bowling- $1,141. 28
Patrick Britton- $5,117.51
McClure Cantrell- $994.56
Kyra Clouse- $201.60
Mark Collins- $2,664.64
Darla Emberton- $331.52
Charles Griffith- $1,116. 94
David Hedge- $207.08
Jimmy Hendrix- $1,258.88
Bobby Johnson- $340.48
Mac Judkins- $216.10
Dana Lafever- $5,586.75
Shane Martin- $1,811.06
Chris McMillen- $1,909.55
Howard \"Butch\" Morris- $19,065.96
Jackie Ray- $560.00
Kenneth Ray- $1,052.80
Patty Rottero-$236.84
Jon Slager- $3,236.10
Ricky Smith-$1,216.32
Andy Snow-$2,064.32
Thomas Southworth- $978.88
Joyce Spurlock- $2,246.72
Susan Teachout- $860.16
Angela Tisdale- $1,357.44
David Ward- $3,818.38
Roger Whitehead- $1,403.03
Samantha Young- $654.08
Debra Stanley- $705.60
Talmage Young- $33,380

The total including fringe benefits comes to around $114,000.

Foster says new policies and procedures will soon be implemented to try to keep this from re-occurring. \" We're going to be using one time sheet from now on and under no circumstances will anybody be paid in the future without a time sheet except department heads that the law exempts. We'll have one time sheet that everybody signs. It will keep a running balance of comp times used and accrued and all other leaves and it will be on file in the office as required, and if someone leaves his or her employment, that position won't be filled until his or her normal salary pays for that comp time to equal it out.\"

State Supreme Court Orders D.A. Bill Gibson's Law License Be Temporarily Suspended

September 25, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The state Supreme Court issued an order Monday that will temporarily suspend District Attorney General Bill Gibson's law license.

Gibson will be allowed to continue practicing law for 30 days, in which time he may mount an appeal.

The Board of Professional Responsibility filed the petition asking the high court to suspend Gibson's law license temporarily under a provision calling for that when there is \"a threat of substantial harm to the public.\"

Gibson is accused of ethics violations involving legal advice and spiritual counseling he gave a man he prosecuted for murder. The correspondence between Gibson and Chris Adams occurred without the knowledge of Adams' attorney.

Lebanon attorney Jack Lowery is representing Gibson

Gibson is also the target of a criminal investigation by the TBI in the case.

Judge Burns Hands Down Sentences Monday In Criminal Court

September 26, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. handed down sentences against five persons Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

24 year old Christopher Hale received a five year sentence after pleading guilty to four counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of theft over $1,000, theft over $500, and theft under $500.

Hale must serve one year of the sentence either in jail or in Teen Challenge and make restitution. Hale was given credit for 96 days of jail time served.

28 year old Samuel Wade Walker pleaded guilty to theft over $10,000 and burglary. He received a three year sentence on probation after serving 150 days. He must make restitution of $1,000 to Johnny's Drugs and perform 100 hours of community service work.

36 year old Richard Scott Adams pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and received a three year sentence on probation. He was given three months jail credit and must agree to testify against a co-defendant in the case.

18 year old Ben Pascal pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule III controlled substance, sale of a schedule IV controlled substance, and two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a total of four years to serve ninety days and then be on probation. He was fined $2,000, must make restitution of $535 , and perform 100 hours of community service.

53 year old Gary Marshall Carter was denied a request for judicial diversion and received a two year sentence after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge of statutory rape. He must serve nine months and comply with the Sexual Offender Registration and Monitoring Act by registering with the TBI Sexual Offender Registry. He will be on probation for a total of four years.

Proposed City Ordinance Could Pose Legal Concerns

September 27, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen is scheduled to adopt an ordinance on second and final reading Monday night to charge for making copies of public documents, requested by the public, and for the time required by city employees to produce those documents.

The council adopted the ordinance on first reading September 18th and a public hearing will be held prior to second reading passage Monday night, October 2nd at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

The City has sought assistance from MTAS, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, in preparing the ordinance, which is similar to ordinances in other cities.

However a legal challenge is being mounted against Loudon County over their fee policy.

The Knoxville News Sentinel, in their Wednesday, September, 20th edition, reported that a Chancery Court petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief has been filed on behalf of three Loudon County residents.

Loudon County's policy requires that those seeking access to county records come to the county mayor's office and fill out a form. Applicants must pay $25 an hour plus 25 cents per page for copies; and there is a non-refundable minimum charge for the first hour that must be paid up front.

According to the state's attorney general, local governments can't charge for employees' time spent fulfilling a public records request. That from Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.

According to Gibson, the attorney general says the only thing the law and the Tennessee Supreme Court has said is allowable under Tennessee law is the cost of the copies.

Under the proposed Smithville ordinance, fees for inspection and copying of city records shall cover the costs of retrieving, supervising access to, and inspection of, and reproduction of records.

\"Such fees shall be as follows: seventy five cents per page for each photostatic copy provided by the city. Fees for items such as, but not limited to, cd roms, computer disks, and audio/video cassettes, will be assessed at the rate paid for such items by the city. Actual personnel costs related to time spent retrieving and accessing records based upon each involved employee's effective hourly rate of pay, including benefits. Actual personnel costs related to time spent supervising access to and inspection of or reproduction of records based upon each involved employee's effective hourly rate of pay, including benefits.\"

The proposed ordinance states that \"All fees for purposes identified in this chapter shall be due at the time such costs are incurred. If multiple copies are requested or copies are requested that require more than minimal time for retrieval, the City of Smithville may require a reasonable deposit for the estimated cost which must be paid prior to the retrieval of the records and prior to the commencement of copying said records. If the city employee involved in the retrieval and copying of records determines that the costs of retrieval will exceed the amount of the deposit, the city employee involved in the search and retrieval shall request an additional deposit sufficient to cover the estimated cost. No reproduction fee shall be assessed, other than the photostatic copy fee of seventy five cents per page, when an employee of the City of Smithville determines that the cost of charging and handling the fee exceeds the cost of providing a copy without charge.\"

Bredesen Announces CDBG Grant for DeKalb County

September 27, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber recently approved a $366,730 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist in improvements to the Alexandria sewer system collection system in DeKalb County.

?I?m glad the state of Tennessee can provide funding to improve sewer systems and expand economic opportunities in communities, like DeKalb County,? said Bredesen. ?The CDBG grants maintain and update community resources and improve the overall economic and environmental health of our state.?

Funding for the $403,000 project will include $36,270 in local funds. The funds were provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and were allocated under a procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. The grants were approved by the ECD Loan and Grant Committee following an application by each county.

?CDBG grants help Tennessee communities lay the groundwork for economic development through improvements to roads, water and sewer facilities and the overall quality of life? said Kisber. ?I'm proud the State of Tennessee can play a role in the progress of our communities.?

The grant was approved following an application by the Town of Alexandria and has the support of State Representative Frank Buck. U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander and Congressman Bart Gordon aided in securing the funds.

?Such grants are a good example of long range planning by local government. I give credit to our

officials for their vision and willingness to do the work necessary to apply for CDBG funding.

This is a win-win situation for our community and the state,? said Rep. Frank Buck.

Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest In Theft Investigation.

September 28, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made an arrest in a local theft investigation.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 22 year old Daniel Rose of 410 South College Street has been charged with aggravated burglary, theft under $500, and forgery.

Sheriff Ray says on or about Wednesday, September 20th, Rose allegedly stole a check made out for $400 from a residence on Allen's Ferry Road. He then allegedly forged a signature on the check and cashed it at a local bank.

His bond is set at $12,500.

McCoys Busted By Sheriff's Department For Possession of Marijuana

September 28, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A man and woman were arrested Wednesday after officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found marijuana in their residence.

28 year old Joseph McCoy of 200 Huddleston Loop, off Adcock Cemetery Road is charged with manufacturing, delivery, and sale of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and failure to appear. His bond is $61,000.

22 year old Bonnie McCoy of the same address is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and manufacturing, sale, and delivery of marijuana. Her bond is $60,000.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies went to the residence to serve a failure to appear warrant on Joseph McCoy when they smelled the odor of marijuana that had been smoked . Upon a further investigation, officers found a large amount of marijuana inside a container along with drug paraphernalia including bongs, pipes, hemostats, and seeds.

The McCoys will appear in General Sessions Court on October 4th.

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