BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Commission on Monday approved allocation of $155,000 from the county's savings (fund balance) for various items, including donations and a Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Service's (EMS) shortfall.
The commission also met in the Greene County Courthouse from 5 to 9:30
p.m., beginning with a workshop to hear another lease-to-own proposal for the Greene County
Within the business portion of the meeting, the commission considered several requests for funds out of the county's savings. Each prompted considerable discussion before receiving approval on divided votes.
The requests included a $5,000 donation for each of the county's volunteer fire departments (to total $75,000), $50,000 to cover increased fees and a shortfall in the EMS budget, and $30,000 for the county's annual donation to the Greeneville-Greene County Airport Authority.
Commissioner Hilton Seay asked that the donation to the fire departments, which occurs annually in May or June, come first to the Budget & Finance Committee for consideration.
Commissioner Anthony Sauceman sponsored the resolution.
Seay's motion failed, and the commission voted 19-1, with Seay opposed to providing the donation.
The vote for the increased expenditures to EMS was nearly unanimous, with only Commissioner Tim White opposed and Commissioner Fred Malone abstaining.
The donation to the Airport Authority, which should have been considered at the start of the fiscal year with the other non-profit donations but was not included due to a miscommunication, received a 13-6 vote of approval.
Commissioners White, Rennie Hopson, John Carter, Robert Bird, Robin Quillen and Sauceman were opposed, and Malone abstained.
Commissioner Margaret Greenway was absent from the meeting.
Budget Director Mary Shelton reported near the close of the meeting that the approval of these requests will leave the county's fund balance at about $3.2 million, well below the $5 million County Mayor Alan Broyles encourages the county to maintain.
Broyles said that the Budget & Finance Committee will attempt to have a proposed 2013-2014 budget before the commission in June.
Another large portion of business included requests by Roberto and Jose Vazquez for property recently purchased on the Erwin Highway and Moon Creek Road to be rezoned from A-1, general agriculture, to B-2, general business.
The Vazquez brothers each spoke to explain their desire to rezone the property.
Roberto Vazquez emphasized their desire to park only two tractor-trailer trucks on the lot, one for each brother.
He said that various individuals originally informed them that the A-1 zoning would not be an obstacle for this purpose, but said that the Greene County Building & Zoning Office is requiring the change to B-2 for use of the property as a parking lot.
"We're just trying to take care of other people," Jose Vazquez said. "In the place we're parking right now, it's dangerous for other people."
Others who live in the area, however, spoke against the rezoning, noting that the only business in the area is a furniture store, with other land use confined to agriculture and residential purposes.
Jim Mercer presented the commission with a petition signed by 58 individuals who he said live nearby and do not want the property rezoned.
Building Official Tim Tweed also confirmed for the commission that the brothers may park their trucks on the land under the A-1 zoning when they build a residence on the property.
The commission voted unanimously not to rezone the properties, with Hopson abstaining from both of the votes and commissioner Ted Hensley abstaining from one.
Hensley took the opportunity to object to the county's asphalt plant during a vote to transfer $855,000 from the proceeds of the five-year County Road Bond into the Road Department's asphalt plant operations.
Hensley, who strongly opposed the plant during the county's consideration of its purchase, said that Road Superintendent David Weems is presenting fraudulent numbers when he reports that the plant has already paid for itself when comparing the current price of asphalt with his production costs.
Weems had previously reported that he is producing asphalt at $47 per ton, while the local purchase price was $72 per ton.
Since that report, Weems said the local posted price has increased to $78 per ton and the University of Tennessee's County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) has evaluated Weems' production cost and adjusted it downward to less than $44 per ton.
Hensley, however, said that the county should consider a prior bid of about $50 per ton that had come with the condition that the county spend the road bond through the purchase of significant tonnage, using the road bond, for three years.
Other commissioners objected, saying that the county did not accept this bid in favor of purchasing the county asphalt plant, noting that since that time no asphalt bids have been submitted to the county.
At the close of this discussion, the commission unanimously approved the request to transfer the road bond funds.
The commission also approved:
* transferring to the county and to the Town of Greeneville $1 million each from the Greeneville-Greene County Landfill Reserve Fund, for the replacement and update of Solid Waste equipment;
* amending the General Purpose School Fund budget for end-of-year adjustments;
* budgeting $4,000 from the Solid Waste Fund's savings into the Solid Waste budget to cover the cost of a temporary employee to replace an employee on extended sick leave;
* budgeting $2,600 from a Coverdell Federal Grant to pay for increased fees related to coroner-conducted autopsies at East Tennessee State University;
* budgeting to county building improvements $1,700 from insurance recovery proceeds for water damage at the former EMS station;
* budgeting $380 from the sale of recycled equipment to the county buildings budget;
* providing the annual authorization of the five-year county property tax reappraisal cycle;
* budgeting $260 from refunds to the line item for the jail's food; and,
* supporting a proposal by the Greene County Health Council to encourage Greene County to be a healthier community through the "Let's Move" program.
During the public hearing, the commission also presented a proclamation to five high school students who have had perfect attendance throughout their 12 years of school.
The commission also heard from Larry Parham, of Rolling Hills Road, who encouraged the county to make budget cuts.