I want to start by saying congratulations to Smith County Trustee Lee Ann Williams for receiving the Legacy Award at the County Trustees Conference in Gatlinburg last week. We thank Lee Ann for the job she does for Smith County.
I also want to mention a milestone that was reached at the end of April, Jacky Carver Sr. retired as fire chief, and Ricky Gibbs assumed that role on May 1st. We will be honoring Chief Carver for his service to Smith County in the very near future.
American Recovery Act Funds– We attended a conference in Lebanon with Comptroller Jason Mumpower organized by Senator Mark Pody. We received further guidance on how American Recovery Act Funds can be spent. The first half of the money will be deposited soon. We have worked with the trustee’s office and local banks to make sure we meet the requirements for the account that will hold the funds.
Governor’s Money– We moved the rest of the money tonight to purchase server and IT upgrades at the jail and court facility. We will be looking to replace the camera system at the jail and court facility with other previous Covid relief money. Also, a purchase of software to revamp our purchase order system. We believe this will create less paper and reduce labor costs for the purchase order procedure.
The legislature did approve another round of funding for next fiscal year budget. Smith County is set to receive $342,240 dollars in unrestricted funds.
Baker Industrial Property– No updates as of now.
Salary Study– Steve Thompson and Associates will present their findings and recommendations to the Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday May 17th at 5PM.
Census Data- The data has been pushed back to September or October. This is going to make the process and timeline for redistricting very short in completing the process before election 2022 deadlines.
Covid 19– We continue to see a downward trend in cases. Vaccinations are now being done only at Health Department. The Health Department pulled out of AG center last month.
County Commission Actions– The County Commission voted and approved several budget amendments. Budget amendments is our normal way of moving money inside budget lines. I am excited that two of those will included actions on debt. We moved money in the 151 Fund, which is our Debt Service Fund. The move will be to pay off early, all short-term notes. When I came into office debt balance was $12,590,000, and with the approval tonight, it will be 9,900,000 to start fiscal year 21-22. We have reduced our debt load by 2.5 million in three years. We also lowered our years and interest by refunding in December. Next years budget will only need 16 cents in property tax to fully fund our debt service. This is a reduction of ten cents. The plan would be to move 5 cents over to capital projects and fund it at 10 cents or right at $400,000 per year. This should take care of all capitol project needs every year and if managed correctly put money back for large purchases such as replacing the fire engine fleet in approximately 10 years.
They also approved the same type of transaction in the 207 solid waste funds. The 207 fund is our solid waste fund. The landfill and convenience sites are fully funded on tipping fees charged to customers dumping in the Smith County land fill and no taxpayer dollars go into this fund. This eliminates all short-term debt in solid waste. When I came into office the debt total at the land fill was 6,842,000 and will be 3,685,000 for fiscal year 21-22. We have cut this debt in half as well. We were able to complete our new cell and not borrow any other money.
I plan to post more updates in the coming weeks to keep you informed of budget proceedings. We are wrapping up presentations and the committee will begin deliberations soon. It is still my belief that the property tax rate should be reduced by 25 cents. It has not been an easy fix and has been a painful process, but Smith County’s financial standing is strong.
Thank you once again for allowing me to serve as County Mayor of the greatest place in the world. May God bless you and may God bless Smith County!