BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Members of the Greene County Budget and Finance Committee briefly discussed the status of the county's first audit of Hotel/Motel Tax revenues during the committee's December meeting on Wednesday.
Committee members also passed two resolutions -- an annual appropriation of funds related to sexual offender registration fees and another resolution allocating for maintenance at the crime lab used by local law enforcement agencies.
HOTEL/MOTEL TAX AUDIT
Following action on the meeting's agenda items, committee-member Hilton Seay questioned County Mayor Alan Broyles if there was "any movement" on the Hotel/Motel Tax audit.
Broyles said there was and that he had contacted other counties to learn how they conduct such audits.
During the full Greene County Commission meeting in November, several members called for the county to hire an outside firm to review the collections rather than leave the task to the office of Greene County Clerk David Thompson.
Commissioner John Waddle recommended the county explore the option of identifying a firm that would conduct the audit for a percentage of proceeds it may find the county is owed.
Broyles said that option was being explored and had been discussed with other counties.
He said that he was "thinking about contacting" companies that perform audits in such a manner not only for the Hotel/Motel Tax collections, but also in other areas of county government -- such as bills for telephone and Internet service -- to identify potential savings.
The full commission is expected to vote this month to hire a firm to conduct the audit for a percentage of funds owed to the county.
SEX OFFENDER FEES
The committee also passed two resolutions to appropriate funds related to law enforcement.
The first adjusts and appropriates funds from a reserve related to registration of sexual offenders.
Fees imposed upon convicted sex offenders are intended to recover the cost associated with keeping updated files of their fingerprints, palm prints, photographs and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) registration forms.
Such fees may only be used for administrative costs associated with their registration.
The committee's action amends the county's General Fund by increasing the reserve amount by $16,980.
The action also increases the Greene County Sheriff's Department's appropriation of such funds for administration of the registry.
"This money is collected from those offenders and can only be used for the cost of maintaining that system," Budget Director Mary Shelton told the group.
Shelton said that the money, which is in a line item for office supplies, is part of the county's General Fund, but is restricted.
The resolution was passed unanimously.
CRIME LAB FUNDS
A second resolution that allocates money from the Drug Control Fund's balance for improvements to the roof and HVAC system at the Crime Lab was also passed unanimously.
Money in the Drug Control Fund is derived from fines, forfeitures and sale of confiscated property related to drug violations.
Such funds, Shelton explained, can only be used for specific uses under Tennessee law.
Those uses include local drug enforcement, education and treatment programs, and non-recurring general law enforcement expenditures.
Shelton said that using the money for roof and HVAC improvements at the lab was discussed with the county's auditors.
Auditors said the project would be considered "legitimate" use of the funds, since it qualified as non-recurring general law enforcement expenditures.
Shelton said the Drug Control Fund had a fund balance of more than $200,000, and the $29,740 expense for the improvements would not have "a significant impact."