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County attorney to go to Nashville with ‘wish list’

The January 13, 2017 Johnson County commission meeting came to order with all commissioners in attendance.  Public comments were first on the agenda and David Lawrence, a county resident with problems regarding his property that has become a court issue, asked the commission and attorney Stout to review the court papers and offer direction. Chairman Mike Taylor told Lawrence he wasn’t sure this was an issue for the commission but Attorney Stout would look over his documents and decide if the commission should become involved.
City Attorney Steve McEwen addressed the commissioners regarding delinquent and unclaimed monies from both previous and upcoming property tax sales.  This is property that could sell on the courthouse steps when the taxes were not paid. The purpose of the proposed resolution allows the county to have access to the unclaimed balance from these sales. This resolution was unanimously approved after a brief discussion.
There was unanimous approvals for last month’s minutes and the acceptance of quarterly reports. Four notaries were up for approval, including Alison Crowe, Michele R. Gentry, Pamela Lynn Mejis, and Thomas Neaves. Both the quarterly reports and notaries were approved unanimously. Two county bonds were also approved in the amount of 40K each for E-911 treasurer and board members, Willie DeBord and Jean Hackney.
Russell Robinson presented budget amendments consisting of typical unplanned expenses and the receipt of grant money to the budget committee earlier in the evening. The amendments were approved by the committee and received an all yes roll call vote from the commissioners.
Darrell Reece, Johnson County Road Superintendent, presented the updated county road list for approval. Reece also wanted approval on a road name change in Shady Valley. According to Reece, Jenkins Road needs to be changed to match the E-911 and postal address of George Jenkins Road. Unanimous approval was given.
The annual review of Johnson County’s debt management policy was then completed. This annual review is part of the Three Star Program. The review was accepted with an all yes vote.
After a brief executive session was called, the commissioners reconvened and heard comments from Mayor Larry Potter. Mayor Potter explained that he is working hard with Tennessee legislators to address issues unique to Johnson County. Recently, the Tennessee legislature approved raises for all county officials. “Johnson County doesn’t have the money in the budget and doesn’t want the increase,” Potter said. He announced that he had asked the county attorney, Perry Stout, to travel to Nashville on January 30th with a “wish list.”
The county’s wish list includes discussions on local sales tax, the rights of counties to decide for themselves when officials need a raise, and road list issues that would make the list binding on the county as well as residents. Other items on the list included how a decrease in grocery tax would affect a community such as ours as a large portion of county residents receive SNAP benefits and therefore they pay no sales tax. Another issue on the wish list included reducing the remaining grocery tax would impact the budget negatively. In addition, Johnson County sold some $3 million in lottery tickets last year and not one penny of sales tax was received. The lottery ticket proceeds are earmarked for the state college scholarship fund.  However, Johnson County students must either travel out of state to a community college, therefore getting no scholarship money or they must travel well over an hour to the nearest Tennessee community college, located in Blountville, Tennessee. Johnson County was recently turned down for a Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus. Despite the county heavily contributing to the state lottery scholarship funds, Johnson County students are hard pressed to take advantage of these scholarships due to the logistics of getting to a state community college. Stout asked the commissioners to please let him know if they had other issues to place on the wish list before he goes to Nashville.  With this, the January commission meeting was adjourned.