BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Commission moved forward into a new fiscal year during Monday evening's meeting at the Greene County Courthouse by appointing a chairman and a chairman pro-tem, and naming commissioners to the county's numerous committees.
While County Mayor Alan Broyles often simply renews members on the committees' list with the same commissioners who served during the prior year, many of this year's committees also included a replacement for Commissioner Brenda Grogan, who died in August following an illness.
In addition, the Records Committee requested to replace Judge Tom Wright with Clerk & Master Kay Solomon Armstrong, who handles probate records.
Records Committee member and Commissioner David Crum explained that the committee will still meet state requirements in having a judge by keeping Circuit Court Judge John Wilson as a member.
It was often difficult for Judge Wright to be present at the meetings due to the scheduling, and it was impossible for both judges to be present together, Crum said.
He said that Wright agreed that Armstrong would be an appropriate replacement.
In addition, the Ethics Committee needed an additional member to meet state requirements, prompting Crum to agree to join and serve as the ninth member of the committee.
Three of the 20 commissioners voted in opposition to the appointments: Jan Kiker, John Waddle and Fred Malone.
Kiker offered her concern during the Republican Caucus meeting held prior to the commission meeting, saying that the appointments filled all positions and did not leave any space for the 8th District Commissioner who will be replacing Grogan after the November elections.
Broyles replied that the new member would be appointed to committees next year, but that September is the appropriate month to fill empty slots on the committees.
Earlier in the meeting, the commission voted 19-1 to keep Mayor Broyles as the Chairman of the Legislative Body, with Commissioner Tim White the sole dissenting vote.
Broyles was the only member to be nominated for the position.
Commissioners Robert Bird and David Crum were both nominated as chairman-pro-tem, to serve should Broyles ever not be present. The commission voted 11-8 for Bird to take the position, with Crum abstaining from the vote.
Broyles immediately took on one of his duties as commission chairman by breaking a tie in favor of a resolution that had evenly split the commission, 10-10.
The resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Ted Hensley, recommended that department heads implement an incentive program to encourage non-elected officials to submit money-saving ideas for running county programs.
Hensley's resolution recommended the formation of a subcommittee to review and implement such recommendations, as well as to track any realized savings.
He then proposed that the employee would receive a 10 percent payment on any savings realized by the county.
"Let's turn over every rock, let's look for every dollar," Hensley said. "No one person -- no 10 people -- can think of everything."
However, some commissioners, including Hilton Seay, expressed some concern that the resolution needed further refinement since many employees are doing small things every day to save the county money.
Seay said that he was not against the resolution, but urged further study to iron out details and close any loopholes that could, he said, create problems and confusion among employees.
Commissioners Wade McAmis, John Carter, Rennie Hopson, Hensley, Robert Bird, Lloyd "Hoot" Bowers, Phil King, Margaret Greenway, John Waddle and Bill Moss voted in favor of the resolution.
Opposed were commissioners Fred Malone, Tim White, Robin Quillen, David Crum, Jan Kiker, Jimmy Sams, Nathan Holt, Seay, Anthony Sauceman, and M.C. Rollins.
Broyles' tie-breaking vote in favor carried the resolution.
The commission was also divided on a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Sauceman, which called for the state legislature to repeal state law requiring the school board appointment of a director of schools, rather than choosing a superintendent of schools by popular election.
Sauceman explained that several constituents had approached him requesting that he sponsor such a resolution, and he said he himself prefers the popular election of a school superintendent.
"I think it's up to the people of the county to pick who they want instead of who someone else wants you to have," he said.
While others agreed, many noted that this issue appears before the state nearly every year but does not make it past committee study.
Mayor Broyles explained that the law came into place because it can be difficult for some smaller counties to find individuals who meet the state's qualifications for the position who are willing to run in an election.
The resolution passed, 11-9, with Commissioners McAmis, Hopson, Hensley, Bird, Bowers, King, Rollins, Sauceman, Greenway, Holt and Sams voting in its favor.
In other business, the following resolutions passed unanimously:
* a resolution conveying county property once known as Leaping Deere Lane to Deere & Company;
* amending the Highway Fund budget to accept a $1.4 million transfer from the proceeds of the road bond issue approved in 2010 by the County Commission; and,
* amending the county budget to carry over to the current budget year $4,600 in unspent contributions received last fiscal year by the Greene County Health Department.
According to the resolution concerning Leaping Deere Lane, it was formerly a county road, but was annexed, along with surrounding property, by the Town of Greeneville in 2001.
In October 2010, Greeneville abandoned the road at Deere & Company's request, the resolution continues. The road provides access to the John Deere Power Products plant and to the RPC plant, which are adjacent.
Although Greeneville annexed this property and took over maintenance of the road for a time, the property on which the road was situated was owned by the county.
Deere & Company, which owns all property surrounding the lane, requested that the county quitclaim the property where the lane was previously situated.
"After carefully considering the situation, Greene County has no use for the property that was previously Leaping Deere Lane ... and it would be proper to quitclaim Greene County's interest in the property," according to the resolution.
The transfer of road bond funds was to meet state auditing requirements to show the total operating costs for the County Highway Department's asphalt plant and its product -- including labor, benefits and materials.
Road Superintendent David Weems estimated that this budget year he will use $1.4 million from the county bond fund.
This is not new money, Weems pointed out, but is his making use of the approximately $3 million remaining from the $5.5 million road bond issue from 2010.
The end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year will be the deadline to use those funds.
To meet the state auditing requirements, County Finance Director Mary Shelton said it is necessary to formally transfer the $1.4 million from the bond fund to the Highway Department fund.
Another transfer of the remaining bond funds will need to take place when the final part of the bond proceeds is used, according to Shelton.
In other business, the commission approved surety bonds for the constables, school board members, Circuit Court Clerk Pam Venerable and Assessor of Property Chuck Jeffers.
Broyles also made proclamations for October 2012 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for Sept. 17, 2012 as World Alzheimer's Awareness Day in Greene County.