Sunday, July 31, 2011

Clarksville's Audit Committee

Here is a story on Clarksville’s Audit Committee.

Folks have asked me how vibrant Robertson County’s Audit Committee will be.
Folks automatically assumed that the Audit Committee will be somewhat reactionary just as the Ethics Committee tends to be. And, what I took from being ‘reactionary’ is that the Ethics Committee generally convenes when complaints and issues are brought to that committee’s attention. It is somewhat of a passive committee unless it has been charged with a task. I do not foresee our Audit Committee being that way.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Proposed "Archives and Records Management Fee"

Here is a proposed resolution that seems to be gaining some momentum amongst commissioners (I have included the resolution in its entirety at the bottom of this post).
Summarily, this proposal is a resolution adopted by a sister where a fee would be assessed for archiving certain documents. If adopted, this fee would generate a significant amount of revenue – an estimated $.01 or $.02 here in Robertson County.

This fee increase is seen as an alternative to ease the apparent looming property tax increase.
Apparently, to levy a fee is easier than to levy a property tax increase.
See, in my humble opinion, whether labeled as a “fee,” or attached to sales, or levied against property – a tax is a tax is a tax.
This is attempting to generate solutions to our issues from the revenue side. Our problems are not with revenue. Our problems are with spending and borrowing.  
Here is the proposal, and below the proposal, find the suggested documents which would be assessed this fee:

MY Minutes: 2011.7.26 RCC Budget Committee Meeting

Jim Bellis of the Robertson County Times covered Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Budget Committee Meeting here.
Here are several of the keys I would like to highlight:
At the committee meeting held July 21, committee members had asked county department heads to revisit their individual budgets in search of additional areas that might be trimmed.
What resulted from the charge?
Collectively, those administrators came to the committee Tuesday night with a total of $58,944 in additional cuts, amounting to just under one-half-cent in property tax value.
Sheriff Bill Holt said that, after further examining his budget, he was optimistic about the possibility of receiving an additional $125,000 in revenue for federal inmates housed in the county’s detention center, reducing the potential property tax increase by one penny.
However, as I understand this effort by the Sheriff’s Department, this is not cutting as much as it is growing an estimate of bring more convicted federal criminals to our County.
Overall, approximately two cents were trimmed from the budget, bringing the potential property tax increase to 38 cents, which Ray said is still too much.
It is not enough.

Friday, July 29, 2011

UPDATED: County-By-County Analysis: Their Budgets

We are not the only County struggling with fiscal issues.
Here are what other counties are doing with their budgets.
What I will try to do is highlight some of the other discussions, issues and, most importantly, solutions they applied. Consider this a forum for discussion rather any endorsement of one idea over another.

Henry County: Protests after a $.15 increase.
Dyer County: It appears that Dyer County reluctantly broached just what charitable contributions should come from public coffers. Further, each department had a reduction of their budget by 4%.
Monroe County: Bleak, and more bleak.
Williamson County: $.23 increase
Obion County: Nothing definitive here with the exception of the 'wheel tax' proposal. Fees are taxes, too.
Anderson County: $.16 increase & $25 wheel tax
Carter County: $.14 increase
Please feel free to share any stories you may have. This is an open forum.

The Week of August 1st


August 1, 2011 – August 5, 2011
Date & Committee/Board           Time                    Location
Monday- August 1
Building & Grounds                        5:00 P.M.             RCOB                 
Tuesday- August 2
Budget                                                5:00 P.M.                    3rd Floor Conf. Rm.
(RE:  Continuation of 7-26 meeting)
Wednesday – August 3
Foster Care Review Board            9:00 A.M.                General Sessions
Thursday- August 4
Budget                                                 5:00 P.M.             3rd Fl. Conf. Rm.
(RE:  FYE 2012 Budget)                            
Re-Districting Committee            4:00 P.M.                    3rd Floor Conf. Rm.                          
Friday-August 5

2011.7.21 RCC Redistricting Committee Meeting

Last week, I discussed that the Redistricting Committee and convened and they would be meeting in the coming weeks.

Here is the Robertson County Times coverage of the meeting.
Note: Alderman Shoemaker’s statements on behalf of the City of Springfield. I find this sidebar somewhat curious as I am one of the four commissioners who represent the City of Springfield.

A Note on Chamber Notes

Great piece by Margot Fosnes on education in her ‘Chamber Notes’ column in this week’s Robertson County Times.
Margot attended the Rural Education Summit (hosted by SCORE), recently and is sharing what she gleaned:
In the end, the most important thing I learned from the summit was that employers and educators must listen to each other to begin a collaborative effort that addresses the challenges that are before us. Federal standards, while important and necessary, must not stand in the way of preparing students for their futures. And in education, as in so many other areas, we are going to need to think regionally, ignoring the arbitrary boundaries of cities and counties, in order to have the resources necessary to provide our children with the education they deserve.
…Certainly a collaborative effort for Robertson County to consider.

Clarksville-Montgomery County [School] ReZoning

What our neighbor is doing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Robertson County Schools / City of Springfield: Questions & Comments

Here are some comments that appeared in my posts regarding the Robertson County Schools here and here.
I thought I would take the opportunity to speak to those comments here for the benefit of all my readers.

MY Minutes: 2011.7.21 Budget Committee Meeting

You may have heard discussion about it already, but prepare for the Robertson County Budget Committee meeting (of Thursday, July 21, 2011) to be talked about over the next several days….at least, not until the next meeting which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 5:00pm. (Recall the schedule I originally posted here.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011.7.18 RCC Legislative Committee Meeting

The following 'quoted block' is the draft minutes from the Robertson County Legislative Committee Meeting – many thanks to Commissioner Steve Haley (Legislative Committee Secretary / 11th District) for providing me with these minutes. 

Tennessee Unemployment Rate: June

Here is a quick look at Tennessee’s unemployment rate:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee's unemployment rate in June increased to 9.8 percent, up 0.1 percent from the May figure.
State Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said Thursday that the higher rate is a result of a "decline in employment combined with a slight expansion in the labor force."
The county-by-county numbers usually trickle out shortly after these state-by-state numbers.

Redistricting in Robertson County

I saw this article from the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle about the status of Montgomery County’s re-districting status and process.
It looks as though a re-districting committee completed an evaluation, analysis and proposal as a proposal is moving forward to their county commission.
Where is Robertson County in the redistricting process?
In the past couple of weeks, a committee has been constituted. Members include:
Commissioners -
Bobby Jones (Chariman) – 10th District
Carol Dugger (Secretary) – 5th District
James Bowens  – 12th District
Billy Vogle – 7th District
Tommy Baggett – 9th District
Ex-Officio / Non-Voting Members –
Cathy Hamsley, Administrator of Elections
Bob Hogue, Planning & Zoning
At our last Regular Commission Meeting, Chairman Bobby Jones gave a status report as to the committee’s progress.
The Committee has met with a representative of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office. An outline of objectives was presented to the Committee.
Chairman Jones advised that the Committee hopes to meet at least 2x a month until a proposal is formally submitted to the Robertson County Commission. Further, a proposal must be passed by year’s end.  

The Week of July 25th


July 25 - 29, 2011
Date & Committee/Board                           Time                                      Location

Monday - July 25
Education                                                            6:00 P.M                              Central Office
School Board                                                      7:00 P.M.                             Central Office
Tuesday - July 26
Budget                                                                 5:00 P.M.                             Finance Office

Wednesday - July 27
Safety                                                                  8:30 A.M.                            

Thursday - July 28
Zoning Board of Appeals                                  6:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
Highway Commission                                       7:00 P.M.                             Highway Offices

Friday - July 29

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Escalation: Robertson County Schools & City of Springfield

An escalation
The Springfield Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to seek legal counsel on its next move in spurring improvements to the city’s schools.
The mayor, aldermen and city manager expressed disappointment in failed requests to the Robertson County School Board to take immediate action on overcrowding at the middle school and issues of diversity at the Tuesday, July 19 meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Robertson County Schools: School Zone Meeting

The Robertson County Schools – Board of Education met on Monday, July 11, 2011. This was a “Special Called” Meeting and was advertised as a “School Zone Meeting” for the “purpose…to review, discuss and possibly take action on suggested zone changes for the 2011/12 and future school years.”

It was a productive meeting.
Formally, there was a proposal considered for busing children currently zoned for Springfield Middle School to Coopertown Middle School. This proposal was being considered to alleviate pressure at Springfield Middle School. This proposal was essentially tabled. It was deduced that there would be no real tangible results. Also, the costs would be considerable since there would be an introduction of another bus route.

Springfield High School: New Principal

Many of you have seen/heard about this in the last week.

Springfield High School will have a new principal for the 2011-12 school year after Principal Rick Highsmith accepted a position at the central office as the interim administrative supervisor of special education.
Justin Grimes, former Westside Elementary School principal, has been named as his successor at SHS. He is one of approximately eight new principals and vice-principals to take on new responsibilities for the upcoming school year.
We will certainly wish Dr. Grimes the best in moving forward.

TCAP Results

Many folks have probably accessed this resource by now, but the Tennessee Department of Education released the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Achievement Test results. Access their site for the results.
Across the state, Tennessee students scored higher in all subject areas and grade levels in grades three through eight on this year’s TCAP achievement tests by comparison to 2009-2010 results. Student math scores grew by 7% and reading scores grew by 3.7%. These improvements show student success with the heightened academic standards implemented last year. An extended version of the statewide press conference is available online.
As of now, the scores are broken down county-by-county. We will look forward to breaking down the school-to-school results.

Upcoming RC Legislative Committee Meeting: Continued Discussion of an Audit Committee

On Monday, July 18, 2011, the RCC Legislative Committee will consider several items.
Most notably, the Legislative Committee (“LC”) will consider the approval of an “Audit Committee.” You will recall that I had discussed this very idea some time ago in prior posts: Here & Here.
The LC moved to table further discussion pending further consideration of the number of members which would sit on this committee, and also, how many members of this committee would be from the General Public (non-Commissioners).
Much of the discussion had to do with the need for members of the General Public.  It was submitted that we do not need members of the General Public because we now have an accountant on the Commission. I personally disagree with this analysis. I would submit that the core function of this committee demands a level of accountability. Commissioners, notwithstanding their respective professions, should not be charged with the function of essentially auditing themselves. I would further submit that the purpose of this committee would be effectively neutered if Commissioners are solely responsible for the prospective function of the Audit Committee.
However, the balance must be counter-weighed with an appropriate mix of commissioners and members of the General Public.
In my own consideration, I would propose that the membership of this committee be comprised of 2 members of the General Public and 3 Commissioners.


From time to time, you will note that I post stories from other counties. Since taking office, I began to track 15-20 counties (through their newspapers, or other media modes) for the “goings-on” and current events.
Many of these I have follow because of their similarities to Robertson County – whether by population size and/or proximity to major metropolitan areas such as Shelby, Davidson and Knox Counties.  It helps me gain perspective on Robertson County’s activities.
I came across this in Franklin County.
I hope to compile some of the other budget processes in other counties. Many of our sister counties are in the same position we are…

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Robertson County Commission Regular Meeting - July 'Packet'

Regular readers may know, but a week before the RC Regular Meetings, the agenda’s are published on the Robertson County website.

Acts Affecting County Government

For anyone interested in recently enacted Acts that affect County Government, CTAS provides the following link.

This publication contains summaries of the public and private acts affecting county government that were passed by the General Assembly this year. These summaries are intended to give county officials notice of changes in the laws affecting their offices. Prior to taking action based on these new laws, the actual text of the law should be reviewed.

City of Springfield: Dissapointing

I will be candid:

I am disappointed with the City of Springfield’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The Board of Mayor and Alderman approved a six-cent increase at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 28, as city leaders adopted the annual budget. It is the city’s first property tax increase since 1988.
The vote followed an amendment by Springfield Alderman Shane Shoemaker, who called for the six cent increase, three of which would be put towards street paving.
It has not yet been explained to me why each of us must trim each of our own household budgets, but ‘leaders’ take the path of least resistance with government budgets  
In the context of the Robertson County 2011-12 Operating Budget, Springfield residents are set to be smacked.

The Week of July 18th

July 18 - 22, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                 Time                            Location
Monday - July 18
Legislative                                                         6:00 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom
Finance                                                             6:30 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom
Nominating                                                      6:30 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom
County Commission                                       7:00 P.M.                    Juvenile Courtroom
Tuesday - July 19
911 Board                                                        9:00 A.M.                   ECC Building
Wednesday - July 20

Thursday - July 21
Budget                                                              5:00 P.M.                    Finance Office
Redistricting                                                    6:00 P.M.                    County Office Building

Friday - July 22