County Mayor’s Notes – April 20th, 2020

Below is a press release from Governor Bill Lee given to Tennessee Mayors today at 3:00 PM.  Note that Cumberland County is 1 of the 89 counties discussed:
Today, Governor Bill Lee announced the order for Tennesseans to remain at home will expire April 30, with the vast majority of businesses in 89 counties allowed to re-open on May 1.

“Our Economic Recovery Group is working with industry leaders around the clock so that some businesses can open as soon as Monday, April 27,” said Gov. Lee. “These businesses will open according to specific guidance that we will provide in accordance with state and national experts in both medicine and business.”

The Lee Administration will work with Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan counties and their health departments as they plan their own re-open strategies.

“While I am not extending the safer at home order past the end of April, we are working directly with our major metropolitan areas to ensure they are in a position to reopen as soon and safely as possible,” said Lee. “Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it.”

The Economic Recovery Group (ERG), composed of 30 leaders from the public and private sector is crafting guidance to assist businesses in a safe reopening. The industry representatives participating in the ERG collectively represent over 140,000 Tennessee businesses that employ over 2.5M Tennesseans. More information about ERG is available here.

Additional details concerning COVID-19 follow after the update from tonight’s County Commission meeting.

The April 20th, 2020 meeting of the full County Commission was held with all Commissioners in attendance by conference call except Commissioner Sue York.  Ben Lomand provided a teleconference line to the county free of charge during the pandemic.  It has certainly been used a lot during the last month.  I had hoped to find a way to live stream the full Commission meeting tonight.  I talked to Ben Lomand to see if there was a way to live stream a conference call from their software, but there isn’t.

If the meetings continue to need to be held electronically, I will try to find time and funds for a more robust system.  In the meantime, the county will comply with the Governor’s Executive Order 16 by making audio recordings available after any meetings that are held.  You can find the audio on the official county website at www.cumberlandcountytn.gov.

Like with many other issues during this time, we are doing the best we can with what we have under less than ideal circumstances.  We have always endeavored to be open with our meetings and will continue to do so.

The first item of business for the evening was a motion to make a determination on the record that meeting electronically is necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare in light of the coronavirus, with the motion and vote to be included in the minutes of this meeting. The motion was approved 17-0.

Next was approval to add to the minutes changes made to the personnel policy of the Cumberland County Clerk.  The changes are the same as those made to the county-wide personnel policy that are detailed below.  The motion was approved 17-0.

Resolutions
The following resolutions were next on the agenda (resolution sponsor in parenthesis):

RESOLUTION 04-2020-1 – To appoint members of the Cumberland County Board of Equalization (Foster).  Willie Freeman, Bill Hargis, Daniel Husk, Levon Hubbard and Rhonda Rector were appointed to the Cumberland County Board of Equalization.  This board reviews property owner’s complaints regarding property tax assessments.  Each member must complete a minimum of four hours of annual training as provided by the Comptroller of the Treasury.  The resolution was approved unanimously.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-2 – To appoint a County Medical Examiner (Foster).  James Wojick, M.D. was reappointed to be the county Medical Examiner for another five-year term in an 17-0 vote.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-3 – To approve updating the current Cumberland County Personnel Policy.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain policies needed to be added for audit purposes.  The following text was unanimously approved to be added to the county-wide personnel policy.  The complete policy can be found online at the official county website, www.cumberlandcountytn.gov.  Note that while the county offices following these policies do have some employees that are working from home, none are on administrative leave.

On page 6- please find the additional information:
TELEWORKING/WORK FROM HOME

During the threat of all types of major emergencies and disasters, both natural and manmade, the County Mayor may determine that temporary changes need to be made in the operation of county government.  The determination must be made in writing and be provided to all county-wide elected officials and the County Commission.

During that time, the Cumberland County Mayor or Elected Official may allow employees to work from home as needed. Employees will follow processes created by the Mayor or Elected Official in regards to timekeeping, requirements for work, and supervision of the employee in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

On page 10- please find the additional information:
ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE

During the threat of all types of major emergencies and disasters, both natural and manmade, the County Mayor may determine that temporary changes need to be made in the operation of county government.  The determination must be made in writing and be provided to all county-wide elected officials and the County Commission.

During that time, the County Mayor or Elected Official may reduce or suspend normal operating hours for certain offices or departments or may grant additional paid leave to full and part time employees, within the confinements of the budget and in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-4 – Budget Amendment, General Fund, Fire Department $1,600.00.  The Cumberland County Fire Department received a donation from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas to provide fire education and carbon monoxide detectors to eligible households.  The resolution to accept the grant funds was approved 17-0.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-5 – Budget Amendment, General Fund, County Clerk $7,400.00.  The County Clerk requested to move funds in the technology line item to data processing equipment in order to upgrade computer technology in the office.  The resolution was approved unanimously.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-6 – Budget Amendment, General Fund, Emergency Medical Service $40,761.00.  The Cumberland County Emergency Medical Service (ambulance service) is in a contract with the State of Tennessee to enhance Medicare/Medicaid payments.  The cost is calculated based on the number of runs made by our ambulances.  Due to several factors, the number of runs has increased this year.  That means the estimated payment has increased, but it also means we will receive income from these funds that will more than offset the additional cost.  The resolution was approved 17-0.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-7 –Encouraging All Elected Officials to Prepare a No Growth Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2020-2021.  The resolution was approved 16-1 with Commissioner Blalock voting against.

RESOLUTION 04-2020-8 – Establishing Fiscal Guidance during State of Emergency – Coronavirus Pandemic.  This resolution issued an affirmation to follow the current budget, with the department heads working with the Mayor to defer or postpone nonessential, or discretionary expenditures such as certain capital outlays, equipment, and travel, and to take action to manage and monitor overtime for hourly employees.  The resolution was approved unanimously.

Property tax collections for the Board of Education are at 98.2% compared to 99.6% at this time last year.  Hotel/Motel tax collections are approximately 64.5% of the $817,283 budget as revised down due to last year’s collection.  So far $526,780 has been received, but the COVID-19 pandemic will definitely negatively affect this line item.  Prisoner boarding is at 49.6% of budget at $368,277 after seven months of revenue has been collected.  Local option sales tax collections came in at $638,878 which is $68,282 below estimated revenue.  Overall, we are approximately $69,386 above the budgeted amount year to date.  This is another revenue line item that will likely be significantly affected beginning with the collections shown next month.  EMS collections for the month were $436,369.  This puts year to date collections at $3,775,496 which is $775,499 above budget.  The annual budgeted amount is $4,000,000.  While we should make the budgeted revenue estimate, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be decreasing the ambulance runs.  We will continue to monitor this closely.

COVID-19 Update

What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is completed by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) after an individual tests positive for COVID-19.  Once a patient is contacted about a positive test result by the health department or their local primary care physician, they are immediately contacted by the TDH contact tracing team who investigates their movements and persons that they may have come in close contact with.  TDH considers close contact to be within six feet for more than 10 minutes.  TDH employees will identify themselves when calling. Contact tracing is done out of the regional office. If you are contacted and have questions or concerns about authenticity, etc., feel free to call 931-646-7586.

COVID-19 Update
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 58 residents of Cumberland County have tested positive for COVID-19 and 24 have recovered, leaving 34 active cases. 996 have tested negative. No deaths have been reported in Cumberland County. Overall, 1,054 people have been tested, which outpaces many larger counties. Contact tracing is standard in all cases, so if you have been in close contact with someone that has tested positive, you will be notified.

These numbers are intended to be a brief summary of the information provided by the Tennessee Department of Health.  More detailed information can be found here:

https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html

Health Department Testing

Your primary care physician and the local Health Department are capable of testing for COVID-19.  The local Health Department (1503 South Main Street) is conducting drive through testing Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM.  For more information call 931-484-6196. 

Thank you for being part of the solution and thank you for the opportunity to serve as your County Mayor.  If you are interested in hearing my personal thoughts and views on news, events, and activities in Cumberland County, please subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you,

Allen Foster
Cumberland County Mayor
http://allenfoster.net

Published by allenfoster

Cumberland County Mayor

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