Loudon County Commission again denied a mid-year funding request by property assessor Mike Campbell.
Campbell wanted funding for a program by Just Appraised that he has said would be a “tool for our office to become more efficient and to make a step in the progression of technology and records keeping.”
When Campbell brought the initial proposal before the county last month, some commissioners voice displeasure that he didn’t use proper procedures and a vote for funding failed. Campbell brought the item before the county budget committee and full commission workshop and again sought approval by the county.
A Monday vote on the measure failed 5-4 after Commissioners Julia Hurley and David Meers motioned and seconded, respectively, to move forward with $3,600 from the County General Fund and $3,600 from Campbell’s budget to operate the program for the remainder of the fiscal year. Commissioners Bill Satterfield, Van Shaver, Adam Waller, Henry Cullen and Gary Whitfield opposed. Commissioner Matthew Tinker was absent.
“It’s a small startup company,” Whitfield said. “To be the first county entity in the state of Tennessee and I just have a little issue with that. I’d like to see some more information. I’d like to see some more county governments that are on it and that are currently using and to see a better at least a benefit of what they’re seeing in their offices. Basically, being a guinea pig I just have a hard time with that.”
Campbell said Loudon County could have been the first in Tennessee to work with Just Appraised.
In November he said he wanted to have the program in place now so he could get “hard numbers” to see if it might be worth keeping. Had the program moved forward, the cost would have been $19,000 for fiscal year 2020-21.
“I know it’s just $3,600, but it’s coming back in six months and could mean $19,000 and it’s just hard for me to swallow spending taxpayers’ money,” Whitfield said.
Campbell declined comment after the meeting, noting he was “disappointed” in commission’s vote.
During the meeting, he said the county could have at any time opted out of the contract through the remainder of the fiscal year with a 30-day notice.
“First of all this, is a $7,200 expense mid-budget,” Shaver said during the meeting. “This is on top of a $3.5 million deficit, seems to not be our problem right now. This is a startup company with 17 customers nationwide. The company will provide information to correct mistakes made by title companies. So we’re going to use taxpayer dollars to correct commercial companies that should not be making mistakes and causing problems in Mike’s office.”
Shaver said he did not favor the request because it was mid-year.
“We’ve done it I reckon by human touch for the last 150 years. I can’t see this being a necessary $19,000 new expenditure,” Shaver said. “We all know these things never stay stagnant. They go up and up and up and it’ll be the most important program we have in the county.”
Hurley favored Campbell’s request.
“I had done a lot of research on it and he seems to be extremely in favor of it,” Hurley said. “His employees are also in favor of it. They don’t feel like they’re being replaced or anything that’s happening. I feel like Loudon County could use a boost in the technology age and he’s very, very well respected in the state of Tennessee for his job here in Loudon County. If he feels like that’s what his office needs, then that’s what his office needs and we should support that.”
Full-time positionCommissioners agreed to make the Loudon County Veterans Service Office position full time after Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw expressed concern during last month’s workshop that Alvin Wagner, who currently holds the position, could leave.
Whitfield and Meers motioned and seconded, respectively, with the vote passing 8-1. Shaver was the lone opposing vote.
The approval includes an additional $6,895 through the remainder of the fiscal year.
Similar to Campbell’s request, Shaver said he was not in favor of making a change in the middle of the budget cycle. He worried the change would set a precedent.
“I support veterans, I support the fellow we’ve got and I think it’s all fine and good, but mid-cycle is not when we just add to the budget, and just as a note aside from that, the mayor informed us he was afraid if we didn’t do this he might lose his employee,” Shaver said. “I think that sets a pretty scary standard if everybody needs more money will say, ‘Well, I’ll have to go if I don’t get it,’ then you kind of set up a stair step. I have no problem with veterans. My dad was one, I’ve got many friends who are. I support veterans, but I can’t support adding more to the salary mid-cycle.”
Commissioner Bill Satterfield was in favor.
“Any interruption to veterans’ services I think is unacceptable,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s first of the stream, last of the stream, midstream, and like I said, to lose a veterans officer and have to start over with somebody new would not be in the best interest of our veterans.”
In other news, Loudon County Commission:
• Adopted the 2020 county government holidays and meeting dates.
• Put together a website committee comprised of Tinker, Satterfield, Waller, Cullen and a member of the IT department. The group will look at how to improve the county’s website.
• Put together a roll call voting system committee comprised of Kelly Littleton-Brewster, Cullen, Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw and Whitfield. The group will look at a new voting system.
• Agreed to donate the right of way in front of Loudon High School to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a road project.
• Approved the application and acceptance of $5,000 High Visibility Enforcement of Tennessee Traffic Safety Laws funding from the state. No matching funds were required.
• Approved the application and acceptance of a $23,200 increase in the DGA grant for wages and benefits of health department employees. No matching funds were required.
• Approved acceptance of a $14,500 Used Oil grant. No matching funds were required.
• Amended County General Fund 101, Public Libraries Fund 115, Recycling Center Fund 116, Centre 75 Fund 119, Highway Department Fund 131 and General Purpose School Fund 141.
• Passed sending a resolution to the state in support of paving Interstates 75 and 40 in Loudon County.
• Adjusted the budget to accommodate additional funding for state training and certification for officers, going from $600 to $800.