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County budget decided

By Teresa Crowder

Freelance Writer

The Johnson County Commissioner’s Meeting in June focused on the County Budget for the new fiscal year. After the standard opening, approval of May minutes, committee reports, notary approvals, and budget approval amendments, Mayor Mike Taylor presented the Three Star Fiscal Confirmation Letter to the commissioners. The annual letter from the state signifies that the county mayor has reviewed the county’s debt management policy with county commissioners along with the annual cash flow forecast. It also requires the acknowledgment that all county officials have a documented system of internal controls.

Missy Marshall, Director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, drove in from Memphis, TN, to present components of being an affiliate in this program. Marshall presented all aspects of the litter program, and Sonya Hammons, Litter Advocate, and the Litter Chicks were on hand to support this effort in the county in litter control and management. In other business, the commissioners appointed Angie Wills to the Cold Springs Utility board. Jeff Wagner addressed the issue of the bridge being gated on Robinson Lane. The property behind the county jail was up for discussion by all, and a motion passed it could be leased to be used for hay.

Russell Robinson then presented the 2022-2023 county budget to the commissioners. The budget includes no tax increases. “We are experiencing a growth in sales tax more today than ever,” says Russell Robinson, Director of Accounts and Budgets. “We also are within six years of the county being debt-free,” continues Robinson. Robinson pointed out an overview of items of the whole budget and explained what each section covered. The budget includes a plan to increase the county and school system pay. “We have had a unique workforce shift and wish to stabilize the workforce in our county,” says Robinson. The budget presentation concluded with a recess to the ten-day meeting and came back on June 27, 2022, at 6 p.m. and finalized.

Taylor then gave a report on the county’s solid waste situation. The county is continuing to negotiate and work on a solution as the cost is a factor and the impending landfill lawsuit between Bristol, TN, and Bristol, VA. Taylor has reached out to other counties, and he and Alderman Dustin Shearin
are working on a viable solution.

The commission did not favor a Johnson County Senior Center proposal, whose Director Kathy Motsinger requested funding for a full-time assistant. Motsinger’s disappointment over the budget committees’ decision is by no means out of line considering the massive growth of Center-membership since she took over directing the facility’s operation. The Center has increased from around 300 members just a few years ago to nearly 1,500 today.

The outcome left much room for discussion among local seniors, who have hoped for more support, although a change is unlikely until the next round in 2023.   

In conclusion, during the meeting, Jeff Wagner, Road Superintendent, and Perry Stout, County Attorney, provided a quick recap on the status of Timothy Branch Bridge. The work has resumed, and an agreement of a ten-year warranty on work completed during the five cycles of assessments made by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

In addition to Mayor Mike Taylor, and Chairman Scott Mast, the following commissioners were present at the meeting; Bill Adams, Berna Arnold, Eugene Campbell, Gina Meade, Jerry Gentry, Jerry Grindstaff, Evelyn Hill, Jimmy Lowe, Megan McEwen, Freddy Phillips, Tommy Poore, and Rick Snyder.