Archive: August 2007
Mayor calls meeting
Mayor Webb Banks has called a special meeting of the Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The meeting is at noon, Wednesday, August 1. The purpose of the meeting is for the board to consider the city’s 2007/2008 budget including the tax rate of $1.60. A
public hearing will be conducted at the meeting.
To see the 2007-2008 Haywood County Schools Calendar, Click Here
County Commission decides on justice complex
By a significant margin, county commissioners voted Monday night, July 16, to build a new criminal justice complex. The long-awaited vote comes just barely shy of three years from the first time a jail inspector said Haywood County’s early 1970’s era jail should be decertified.
County Mayor Franklin Smith said leaders might be able to delay the decertification but that its eventuality is “inevitable.” A letter dated July 10 from the state’s jail inspector put the county on notice he is recommending decertification.
Commissioners were presented three choices; 1) renovate and add on to the existing jail; 2) build a new jail that includes offices for the sheriff; 3) build a criminal justice complex complete with adequate space for the county’s court system and associated offices.
Fourteen commissioners voted for the justice complex, five for a jail and one preferred the renovation option.
The jail committee’s consultant, Jim Woodrum, has estimated the complex could cost more than $12 million, but that number is in dispute.
How to fund it
Little was said Monday night about how commissioners will fund the project, but in previous sessions, leaders have said they’ll turn to the property tax, wheel tax or a combination of both to make debt payments expected to last at least 15 years. Brownsville’s city government has pledged to contribute to the project, but aldermen and the mayor have declined to say how much or for how long.
Where to locate
For the first time in his tenure as mayor, Franklin Smtih broke a tie vote. Commissioners deadlocked 10 to 10 on a resolution allowing the jail committee to recommend where the new facility is to be located. Smith’s tie-breaking vote allowed the motion to go forward. The jail committee previously voted unanimously to locate whatever new facility at the site of the present jail.
Could all of the governments – there are three – in Haywood County be unified? The subject has been only conversation since an official examination last took place in 1993, but the issue will return with appointment of a metro-government study committee.
Fourteen years ago a committee chaired by then States-Graphic editor Christy Smith recommended that a charter commission be appointed to take the issue to the next level.
Mayor Smith, who was at the helm of county government as county executive in 1993, never followed up on the recommendation, but it was he that, Monday night, recommended that it be reexamined. Smith said that back in 1993 the subject kept “coming up” in a federal lawsuit negotiation and he said, “it was dropped, I guess, because I was tired of talking about it.”
Smith said letting the subject die was a mistake.
The mayor did not name a committee Monday night, but said he’d present the names next month. The county commission unanimously approved the measure.
- Commissioners heard that the certified tax rate is $2.18. The current rate, based on the former property appraisals is $2.40. Leaders are in the midst of planning the 2007/2008 budget.
- County government will increase its contribution for renovation and installation of an elevator at College Hill. According to Smith, so will the city. The work is expected to cost about $200,000. The city and county will each pay $70,250 and the balance will be paid by grant funds.
- Commissioners agreed to raise the amount of government purchases requiring sealed bids from $5,000 to $10,000.
- Phyllis Clark was appointed to a four-year term on the utility board.
- Merry Bond, Mark Dyer and Myrna Gorman were reappointed to three-year terms on the library board.
City board members agree to help county with jail
When Mayor Webb Banks and the city’s aldermen met Tuesday night, July 10, they agreed to help the county financially with the cost of the a new jail or justice center, whatever county commissioners choose to build. But they put a cap on what they will give annually and voted not to give the city 1-1/2 percent of their sales tax income. In the past, the city has designated this sales tax revenue to help the county with schools, then the cost of renovating the existing jail, but that revenue increased over the commitment time to almost double, thus the reason for the cap. The board authorized the mayor to tell the county they will help – but members were not specific about the amount.
City changes street name
At its July 10 meeting, city board members voted to change the name of the north/south portion of Elizabeth Street to Madison Avenue. This comes after a request from property owners and a recommendation from the planning commission that the east/west portion be renamed Lincoln Street and the north/south portion be renamed Madison Avenue. Elizabeth Street runs east/west from Grand, then tees and runs north/south at the end. This has caused confusion for emergency personnel searching for addresses on the street. Also of special interest to the property owners is the image of the neighborhood that has now been cleaned up and fixed up.
Future mayors will make more money
At the July board meeting, Brownsville aldermen approved on second reading an increase in the salary of the mayor from $55,000 to $75,000 per year. This will go into effect in July 2010 after the next election.
School board to “call” budget meeting
When the Haywood County School Board met in regular session Tuesday night, July 10, they took care of several items, but had to put off budget approval – because it isn’t ready. The city, county and school budget cannot be set until there is a state certified tax rate, and, according to Property Assessor Dare Simpson, that has not yet been determined. Board members adjourned subject to call when they can finalize the budget.
In other business, board members adopted a yearly agenda, approved athletic practice at Haywood High School during regular school hours, declared about 30 computers as surplus, and reviewed and approved changes in all of the schools’ handbooks.
The opening in-service for faculty and staff will be on Thursday, August 2, at Haywood High School at 8:30 a.m. The first day of class will be August 6. The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be held on August 14 at 6 p.m.
City has new code inspector
Renee Chapman Hendrix
Renee Chapman Hendrix is the new City of Brownsville Code Inspector as of June 18. She has a background in construction through her work with her husband, Allen Hendrix.
Some of her duties as code inspector include, performing municipal code and zoning inspections, receiving and investigating complaints relative to municipal codes and zoning ordinance such as may relate to noise, odor, setbacks, weeds, trash, junk cars, placement and size of signs, etc. Other duties include ordering correction of violations and re-inspection for compliance. She will also attend Brownsville City Court as needed to enforce municipal code and zoning violations that have not been corrected.
County’s unemployment rate remains low in May
The unemployment rate ticked up here slightly in May, but remains at historic lows. The Haywood County rate for May, as reported by Tennessee’s labor force estimates is 6.8%, up from last month’s 5.1%. The May 2007 rate is a point higher than a year ago.
Neighboring counties reported similar employment statistics for May.
- Tipton County 4.6%
- Fayette County; 5.3%
- Crockett County; 5.6%
- Hardeman County; 5.6%
- Lauderdale County 6.1%
For more information about state labor statistics, go to http://www.tennessee.gov/labor-wfd/labor_figures/may2007county.pdf
County Mayor assumes SWTDD chairmanship
Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith
Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith assumed the chair position of the Southwest Tennessee Development District Board of Directors at the District’s recent annual meeting and election.
Smith replaces Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis who has been in that position for the past three years. Chester County Mayor Troy Kilzer was elected vice-chair, and Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist was elected secretary-treasurer.
Evelyn C. Robertson, Jr., who is retiring as executive director of the eight-county regional planning organization, was given special recognition by the Tennessee Development District Association (TDDA), by Senator Lamar Alexander through his representative Matt Varino, and by the SWTDD Board.
Reid one of TAC new officers
During their recent quarterly meeting held on June 7, Tennessee Arts Commission members selected new officers to lead the agency effective July 1. New officers are Ed Gerace of Johnson City, chair; Betsy Reid of Brownsville, vice-chair; and Donna Chase of Knoxville, secretary.
Assuming the position of vice-chair, Reid is currently senior marketing consultant for RadioCorp of Jackson. She previously served on the board of Tennesseans for the Arts, and is past president of the Brownsville Rotary Club and the Brownsville Haywood County Arts Council. She serves as chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Interboard Committee for Arts Education. She is past chair of Operation Super Schools for the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, and serves as chair of the Haywood County Democratic Party. She is currently on the board of the Tennessee Alliance for Arts Education.
Reid received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Virginia, and her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. She resides in Brownsville with her son.
The governor appoints Commission members for five-year terms. The Commission meets quarterly.
The Tennessee Arts Commission is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences that add value to the lives of every citizen, and enhance the quality of life in Tennessee communities. Several Brownsville-Haywood County organizations and schools have been recipients of Tennessee Arts Commission funds.