The September meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners began with the annual elections. Mayor Carey was reelected as Chairman, Harry Sabine was reelected as Chairman Pro-Tem, and Nancy Hyder was elected Parliamentarian, all unanimously. County Attorney Randal Boston was reappointed in a 17 – 1 vote with Commissioner Lynch voting against.
In an 11-7 vote, Harry Sabine, Nancy Hyder, Johnny Presley and Mike Harvel were reappointed to the Financial Management Committee. I voted against the motion, along with Commissioners Brown, Rimmer, Cramer, Houston, Safdie and Koester. All of the members nominated also serve on the Budget Committee. I believe we need more representation from other committees such as Debt Management and Audit. I also do not believe a Commissioner that is also a county employee should serve on this committee.
Other appointments included Jeff Welch to the Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District, Janet Kluender and Bob Ramsey to the Crossville-Cumberland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Trey Kerley, Everett Bolin and Lynn Tollett to the Cumberland County E-911 Emergency Communications District Board of Directors, and Joyce Rorabaugh as the Cumberland County Archivist. Carmin Lynch was appointed to replace Clyde Cramer on the Debt Management Committee.
After gaining approval from the Planning Commission and the Environmental Committee, a resolution to close an unused portion of Sportman’s Club Road was approved. The only land owner affected was in agreement with the closing. Authorization was also given to sell two fire trucks that are no longer used by the Fire Department.
After each national census, redistricting must take place at all levels of government. A plan for the redistricting of the local Cumberland County districts was presented to the Commission by the Redistricting Committee. The committee chose to recommend keeping nine districts in Cumberland County instead of reducing the number to eight. The 4th and 9th districts were the only two that were over the averages required by the state. Approximately 400 voters were moved from the 4th district to the 1st district, and around 700 were moved from the 9th to the 6th. The plan passed 16-2 with Commissioners Lynch and Koester voting against the resolution. Notices will be sent by the Election Commission to those that have had their voting district changed.
StonePeak Ceramics is ready to expand their operations again by acquiring land and constructing a new building for additional manufacturing space. The cost of the addition would be in the $15,000,000 range and would bring additional jobs to Cumberland County. As such, StonePeak Ceramics has requested Cumberland County extend the payments in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) program. In years 1-6 of the plan, StonePeak would pay no property tax. In years 7-9 they would pay 25 percent; in years 10-12 they would pay 50 percent; in years 13-15 they would pay 75 percent; in year 16 and beyond they would pay 100 percent. In all, StonePeak would save just over $565,000 over 15 years. The resolution passed unanimously.
The recent Health and Safety Standards Board (HSSB) meeting was a topic that came up multiple times throughout the evening. The HSSB was created and authorized to deal with vacant and dilapidated properties that pose a health or safety hazard to the community. The County Commission created this board some years back, and it was again authorized this year with the passage of the county budget.
According to a recent account in the Crossville Chronicle (click here to read the article), a few CountyCommissioners were questioning the board and a “heated debate” ensued. At some point at least one of the Commissioners mentioned that they would do whatever they could to get rid of the board. Nancy Hyder is the only CountyCommissioner on the HSSB. The rest of the board is made up of citizen volunteers. Ms. Hyder, the only board member that did not resign, stated that she felt the HSSB volunteers were treated with no respect or dignity. Several from the audience spoke stating that certain Commissioners had disrupted the HSSB meeting.
The HSSB has provided a valuable service by helping Cumberland County residents deal with vacant properties that could not otherwise be dealt with. While some would say that the HSSB is a precursor to zoning in CumberlandCounty, there is simply no basis for that statement. It isn’t true. I want to take the time to mention my thoughts in general on how local government functions. The County Commission is the primary policy making body in the county. It is a corporate body that only has authority when in session. While it is important for individual Commissioners to attend meetings and be out in the community, no individual Commissioner has any authority outside the corporate body, the County Commission, as a whole.
Help me to better serve you by giving me your feedback on the various issues facing you and our county. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. Thank you for allowing me to serve the 4th District and Cumberland County.