Archive: July 2008
Unemployment up in every Tennessee county
State government released the June unemployment rates on July 27, and the numbers show that unemployment increased in all 95 Tennessee counties.
Haywood County hit double-digits with an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent. That’s up from May’s 9.8 percent, and the rate is 3 percent higher than a year ago.
The news is worse, though, for Lauderdale County where 11.4 percent of their workforce is jobless. Lauderdale has the distinction of having the second worse unemployment rate in Tennessee. Only Perry County was higher at 14.8 percent.
Other counties of interest are Crockett at 8.5 percent, Hardeman at 8.6 percent, Fayette at 7.5 percent and Tipton at 8.1 percent. Shelby County’s rate for June was 7.4 percent, and Madison County’s rate was 7.0 percent.
Williamson County registered the state’s lowest county unemployment rate at 4.8 percent.
The unemployment rate in Tennessee is 6.5 percent, and in the nation, 5.5 percent.
Kids Day is a huge success
This year’s Third Annual Kids Day celebration, held on July 16 at Volunteer Park, was a huge success. The Brownsville/Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and Haywood County Parks and Recreation Department coordinated the event. According to chamber director Joe Ing, more than 800 attended.
City honors clean-up workers with a luncheon
Men from the First United and Union Grove United Methodist churches in Brownsville did the cooking for the big lunch that workers, who helped clean up after the Memorial Day storm, enjoyed. Pictured are Lucion English, Jack Fletcher and David Hooper, Sr., cooking country ham donated by Tripp Country Hams for the occasion.
Lunch was provided by the City of Brownsville and Tripp Country hams for all who participated in clean up operations after the Memorial Day storm, including city and county elected officials, workers, staff, and department heads.
Ladies from Union Grove United Methodist made sure everything was ready as the table was spread for the lunch provided by the City of Brownsville for all workers and parties who worked during the cleanup after the Memorial Day storm.
For a few hours on July 18, the Brownsville City Shop changed it’s appearance and took on a camp meeting-type atmosphere with people sharing great fellowship and deliciously prepared food.
With a feast of country ham and other foods, the City of Brownsville thanked all the workers and volunteers who joined together to clean up the town after the Memorial Day storm.
Charlie Tripp provided the ham and the City of Brownsville took care of the rest. The men of First United Methodist Church did the cooking, and the ladies of Union Grove United Methodist Church prepared the tables and provided the service.
City and county officials praised everyone for their assistance, including city, county, and state workers and volunteers who sacrificed time with family and worked around the clock in a united effort.
Among the volunteers, the Memphis Conference Disaster Relief Team of the United Methodist Church, under the leadership of Bill Carr spent, about a month in Brownsville. Using their own machinery and equipment, the volunteers worked in 134 yards while recording more than 1,110 man-hours.
Budget makers moving forward
County government’s budget committee has been meeting often, hammering out a budget that’s expected to be ready for adoption in August. At the July 21 county commission meeting, Budget Chairman Allen King said no decision has been made about tax rates, or whether county workers will get a 3 percent raise.
“We’ve been working with the intent of not giving a raise, but we’re taking a look at that,” King said.
Most of the county departments are presenting budgets that are typical of years past, but budget makers didn’t comment on how they may fund debt being incurred for the new criminal justice complex.
Leaders are also worried about a proposed 49 percent increase in health insurance premiums proposed by the county’s insurance carrier. It’s the county’s insurance loss experience that has the state insurance program’s underwriters asking for more. County Mayor Franklin Smith said through the end of the first quarter of this year, county workers had filed claims totaling $530,000. The county had paid only $340,000 in premiums.
Court fees going up
After August 1, it will cost more to use the county’s court systems, and the funds may help relieve property tax increases. County Commissioners agreed Monday night to raise the litigation tax on both criminal and civil cases from $10 to $50.
County Mayor Franklin Smith says he believes the increase could net the county up to $320,000 annually based on past history. The money is earmarked, according to state law, for the purposes of “jail or workhouse construction, reconstruction or upgrading, or to retire debt … on construction … or for courthouse renovation ….”
Smith says $320,000 is the equivalent of 10 cents in property tax income.
MTD/Cub Cadet expanding
County Commissioners have agreed to sell a private investor 6 acres of land in the industrial park. The investor will build a 100,000 square foot building that could be used by utility vehicle and light tractor maker Cub Cadet.
According to Mayor Franklin Smith, Cub Cadet is considering adding a line to their manufacturing operation in Brownsville and needs the space for warehousing and assembly.
Last week’s announcement that Volkswagen will build a huge manufacturing plant in East Tennessee, is raising hope, locally, that our megasite could be next.
Mayor Franklin Smith says he hopes to learn more about the prospects when meeting with a law firm and state officials involved in land acquisition. Smith says his meeting is scheduled later this week.
Smith says he’s still not sure how many state development dollars have been allocated to our megasite, but he thinks land purchases may be imminent.
County to pay two new employees
Haywood County Commissioners agreed to fund a full-time position in the county juvenile judge’s office. State funding has ended for the court’s Intensive Probation Office for the Juvenile Court.
At the urging of Judge JR Reid, county commissioners unanimously approved picking up the $23,000 salary of Renee Jackson, who has been serving in the position.
County government will also fund a $10,000 part-time job for the Department of Human Services Family First program.
City board approves public notice of General Obligation Bonds
When the city board met in special session on Monday, July 21, members approved to give the public notice about the issuance of General Obligation Bonds they will approve for no more than $14 million. The funds from these bonds, if needed, will be for the development of the new industrial park that fronts on the bypass and is bordered by Windrow and Shaw Chapel roads. The reason for this action is to begin the 20-day public notice clock so that the board can approve the resolution to get a Certificate of Need from the state. This certificate is required by the state before the city and county can receive any funding.
It was first brought up in the last city board meeting, but the mayor and aldermen did not approve the measure, at the bidding of city attorney Michael Banks, who was concerned about some of the wording in the resolution.
In the July 21 meeting, Attorney Banks said that the current wording in the resolution is acceptable for the notice that will be published in the newspaper, but in the next few weeks he and state advisors will be working on making some changes to the wording of the resolution.
Actually, both City Mayor Webb Banks and County Mayor Franklin Smith said they hope they won’t have to borrow any or much money to develop the new industrial park. Mayor Banks said they have already been approved for a $750,000 grant to begin building the infrastructure in the park, but the city can’t get the money without the Certificate of Need.
Also at issue is an interlocal agreement between the city and the county about the repayment of these bonds, if they are issued and money is borrowed, because the city and county are partners in the industrial park project. The city and county have already paid for the land to establish the park. Attorney Banks says it is legal for the city and county to enter into this type of long-term agreement for the life of the project.
Mayor Banks said the city has not issued any bonds since he has been in office. Mayor Smith, who was also at the meeting, said the current industrial park on Morgan Street was developed beginning in 1977 when the county bought the property and the city developed it. Since then, the city has received 52% and the county 48% of the sale of all properties in that park.
Balanced budget approved; no tax increase
July 8, 2008
Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks held a swearing-in ceremony for the city aldermen at the monthly meeting on July 8. John Simmons and Leon King were sworn in for four-year terms, and Carolyn Flagg for a two-year term. She was appointed to the seat, requiring her to run in this election, but she will have to run again in two years for a four-year term. Also sworn in was Vice-Mayor Joe Taylor, who is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the board.
With the details already settled for a couple of weeks Brownsville’s aldermen and the mayor quickly adopted final passage of their budget when they met July 8. The new budget sets the tax rate at $1.60, the same as it was last year.
City Clerk Jerry Taylor says he estimates the city ended its fiscal year June 30 taking in more money than it spent. Taylor says he believes the city’s general budget collected about $395,000 more than it spent. He says the solid waste fund likely collected $109,000 more than it spent. But Taylor cautioned aldermen that the city’s savings account is down to a $500,000 certificate of deposit, “the lowest it’s been in a long time.”
The city’s general fund spending budget for 2008/2009 is $145,000 less than 2007/2008.
City Clerk Jerry Taylor says city crews are still cleaning up from the Memorial Day Storm and the clean-up cost have reached six figures.
Taylor told Brownsville’s city board members that the city has spent about $100,000 cleaning up behind the storm. While there was no serious property damage during the winds and thunderstorms, trees were uprooted and thousands of tree limbs were broken.
City crews have worked thousands of overtime hours clearing the debris.
Technicalities delay bond resolutions
City Attorney Michael Banks urged the city board not to pass a resolution to start in process a $14 million bond issue. While Mayor Webb Banks says he doesn’t plan to actually borrow the money, the financing needs to be arranged so city and county governments may obtain a Certificate of Necessity required for official recognition of the new industrial park. The park is located on Windrow Road at the Bypass.
An engineering firm has estimated the cost of development of the park at $14 million, but Attorney Banks says he believes the park can be developed in stages and probably with state and federal grant funds.
The resolution presented to the board Tuesday night obligated the debt exclusively to city government, but the city and county jointly own the park. Attorney Banks also cautioned board members that they should review costs attached to the resolution that some estimate to be as much as $280,000.
No action was taken.
The next city board meeting will be held Tuesday, August 12, at 5:30 p.m.
Stanton to “Stuff the Bus” again this year
It’s time to kick off the Town of Stanton’s “Save Our Children” program, (more commonly known as “Stuff the Bus”) for all the children of Haywood County, according to Stanton Alderman Emma Delk. “Many of our children are from homes that need more than just money. We can’t give them the love and stable homes some of them need, but we can help send them back to school with new supplies and clothing for the new dress code, so they are proud to be among their fellow students,” she said.
Mrs. Delk, along with others who are helping her with the second annual project, are asking churches, businesses, organizations and individuals to help them send the neediest children back to school with the same supplies, backpacks and clothing as their peers.
According to Mrs. Delk, this program is set up to target children and families that need support the most, but any child can be helped through this program. “The youth of the more poverty stricken areas of Haywood County are falling through the cracks. This is only one small way we can help. We would like to invite all residents of Haywood County to join with the Town of Stanton in this program.”
For convenience, stores who have school supplies have supply lists from which to choose, and there are several locations where items for the new Haywood County Schools dress policy are available. Monetary donations will be used to purchase these items as well as the supplies needed. The delivery of these items will be monitored by the Haywood County Board of Education.
These supplies will be collected and stuffed in a school bus on July 26 at the Stanton Farmers Market in downtown Stanton. This will enable the group to have the supplies available for distribution to the children by the beginning of the school year.
For more information, call Emma Delk at 731-548-6303, Debbie Sterbinsky at 731-780-5790, or Linda Barnett, Town Recorder for the Town of Stanton at 548-2565 from 8-12, Monday through Friday. If you would like to mail a donation, please address it to the Town of Stanton, P. O. Box 97, Stanton, TN 38069. Please designate that your donation goes to the “Stuff the Bus” program.
Sponsored by: Haywood County Chamber of Commerce
Local governments to improve downtown
City and county governments are on track to buy court square property. The news comes from the June 30 county commission meeting when Haywood County Commissioners agreed to purchase the vacant lot where the “Tamm” building once stood.
Known by historians as Lot #1, the tract is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of East Main and Court.
Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith won unanimous approval of the $45,000 purchase from owner Harry Slayton. Smith says city government will pay half. Brownsville Business Association members, who promoted this purchase, say they’d like to see it developed into space usable for community events.
Commission approves justice complex spending
Inmate labor could save half-million
County Commissioners approved a budget amendment June 30 that indicates just over $119,000 has recently been spent on the $15 million criminal justice complex. Most of the expense, $93,839, is for architect’s fees.
Mayor Franklin Smith says county officials are making a deal with the state department of corrections to use state inmate labor for some of the construction. Sheriff Melvin Bond says he expects the deal to shave a half-million dollars off the cost of the building.
Smith says significant construction on the building may start in August.
County recycling gets improved location
Haywood County’s recycling operations will move right away. County Commissioners agreed June 30 to lease a building in the industrial park.
The building, located at 415 Morgan Street, most recently housed Easy Soil, owned by Tennessee Compressed Soil, Inc. The company is leasing the building to the county for $36,000. Smith told commissioners that the city would pay half the expense.
Solid Waste Director Clinton Neal said he would begin moving equipment to the new building right away.
County budget likely ready in August
County commissioners won’t be asked to vote on a 2008/2009 spending package until August. Mayor Franklin Smith said June 30 that the budget committee will likely meet “10 or 12” more times, hammering out the $30-plus million county budget. Smith did not provide any hints about what taxpayers may expect.
City approves balanced budget; no tax increase June 26, 2008
Aldermen and the mayor have managed to balance the city’s budget. They did it late Thursday, June 26, in the second of two specially called sessions to work on, almost exclusively, the city’s budget.
Cutting more than $300,000 from the original proposals, aldermen slashed parks and recreation over $100,000 and decided against an addition to the Delta Heritage Center. Freezing hiring and reducing from six to two the number of police cars, made up the bulk of the spending cuts. The city has set the tax rate at $1.60 – the same as it was last year.
New beer board goes right to work
The city board also gave the nod to a new beer board. Mayor Webb Banks appointed Charlie Tripp, Linda Freeman and Clinton Thomas to the board whose job it is, among other things, to review beer-selling applications in Brownsville.
The board went to work immediately meeting shortly after their June 26 appointment to review package beer applications submitted by local grocer E. W. James and convenience chain Hooper Quick Stops.
The board authorized the licenses for both the grocer and the convenience stores.
Brownsville Utility now Brownsville Energy Authority June 26, 2008
The Brownsville Energy Authority is in business. You won’t really know the difference, but Brownsville aldermen and the mayor gave final approval of the measure that separates the city’s utility from city government. The new utility will be known as the Brownsville Energy Authority.
The change allows the utility board, mostly, to operate independent of city government.
The city also divorces itself from financial liabilities of the utility.