|Commission to consider school voucher resolution
|Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:05 pm
|By CHRIS MENEES
A resolution opposing a proposed school voucher program will be considered by the Obion County Commission when it meets March 18.
The Obion County Budget Committee voted at its meeting Monday morning to present a resolution to the full commission for consideration at its next session.
The action came after Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire told committee members he’d like to see the county commission pass a resolution against the voucher program. He was among county and education officials from across the region who attended a briefing on the proposed school voucher program Friday in Dyersburg.
The state Legislature is considering the program, which would open the door for state funding for private schools. Friday’s meeting was arranged by state Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton.
Budget committee member Danny Jowers, who also attended Friday’s meeting, said the proposed school voucher program is a serious situation and “a slippery slope.” He said as it stands right now, Sanderson is against the proposal.
Jowers reminded commissioners about the upcoming County Government Day set for next Monday and Tuesday in Nashville, where the school voucher program will likely be among the issues addressed by those attending.
Many county officials have expressed concerns about public education being negatively impacted by government mandates, and Jowers expressed a desire to see any problems worked out in order to “get back to teaching.”
In other action during Monday’s 55-minute meeting, opened in prayer by county commissioner Richard Arnold, the budget committee:
• Learned the budget process for the next fiscal year has begun and the budget committee will likely start meeting in April. Budget committee chairman Jerry Grady said non-profit agencies have been notified by letter to submit their requests by April 1.
Grady said county officials will have to “keep a tight belt” on spending and spend tax dollars wisely. He also urged them to be as open and transparent as possible while respecting one another’s opinions and working together to devise a good budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
• Voted to let the full county commission consider the creation of an audit committee, which could be beneficial to the county’s and local cities’ participation in the Three Star program for community development. Creation of an audit committee was also recommended as a best practice in the county’s annual audit for the last fiscal year.
McGuire said it would basically be “a watchdog committee over the county commission” and would look at the county’s audit reports. Jowers said it is basically “a back door way” of forcing the county to adopt a centralized purchasing system and he said he wishes local government could stand up to the state’s mandates, but he said he also does not want local communities to be hurt for grant opportunities through Three Star.
It was noted the county only had one finding on its last audit and an audit committee would likely only meet once a year.
• Agreed to send the courthouse committee’s recommendation for the replacement of the county jail’s heating and cooling units to the full county commission for authorization to begin the work. The proposal would start a fall cycle to replace all of the aging units.
The action also prompted some discussion about the possibility of a capital projects fund and a depreciation schedule for maintaining county properties, as well as the use of funds from a maintenance budget to make repairs to a county-owned building rather than taking it from the sheriff’s budget.
• Accepted a letter of approval from the state comptroller for the issuance of a capital outlay note not to exceed $200,000.
• Approved several in-house budget transfers, including those requested by trustee Lori Seals for $1,500 in the General Fund; solid waste director Mike Cary for $14,200 in the Solid Waste Fund; and Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder for $2,000 for the jail, $1,500 in the Drug Fund and $5,000 for the sheriff’s department.
• Voted to send to the full county commission a resolution to create a travel line item in the litter grant budget as requested by the sheriff.
• Approved sending to the full commission a trio of resolutions for budget amendments, including $1,910 for the General Fund; $200 for the General Fund and $5,000 for the Debt Service Fund; and a third for amendments to the General Purpose School Fund to reflect repairs to secure a wing at Hillcrest Elementary School due to damage caused by extreme dry weather and to reflect the renovation of the old Career Technology Center building progressing more rapidly than anticipated for use as the county board of education’s new central office.
• Approved placing appointments to the Joint Economic & Community Development board and the highway board on the commission’s March agenda.
• Voted to place notary public applications on the commission’s agenda.
Budget committee members Ralph Puckett and Terry Roberts were absent from Monday’s meeting.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.5.13