State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver said Friday during her "Coffee and Conversations" town hall meeting in Smithville that she voted for cutting the state sales tax on groceries to five percent but believes that's as low as it should go.
In fact the state House unanimously approved Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to cut the state's sales tax on groceries. State Representative Mark Pody joined Weaver in voting for the bill.
If the plan is approved by the Senate, the state's tax on groceries will drop by a quarter percentage point, to 5 percent. Lawmakers last year enacted a cut of the same amount.
The state's sales tax on non food items is 7 percent.
The tax reduction is projected to cost the state about $23 million in state revenue — or an average annual tax savings of about $3.56 for each Tennessean.
"It'll be a flat 5% and I think that is probably where it is going to stay. I don't think I can support it below that," said Representative Weaver. "We're eliminating a lot of taxes, which is good. Its made Tennessee very attractive to people to come and live here. But I believe everybody should have some skin in the game on taxes and the food tax is the only way we can do that at this point. We've got to have revenue in or we can't pay for some of the things people are used to having," said Representative Weaver.
The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee and is not expected to find much opposition.
Do you dream of owning your own home? Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is making plans to build another affordable, safe and decent home with a local family.
There will two opportunities to learn more at an Informational Meeting and Application Fair. Please come either Tuesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. OR Saturday, May 4 at 9:30 a.m. at the Methodist Family Life Center next to Love-Cantrell Funeral Home in downtown Smithville. Families will receive information about the Habitat Program and assistance to complete the application.
To qualify, applicants must meet the following basic criteria:
1. Be a DeKalb County resident for at least 1 year prior to April, 2013.
2. Be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident alien status.
3. Have a housing need. For example, current conditions may be overcrowded, unsanitary, unsafe, temporary or cost prohibitive.
4.Have an ability to pay. Applicants must provide proof of income and ability to pay a monthly mortgage.
5.Be willing to partner. Qualified families will participate in budgeting and home maintenance classes as well as help in the construction of their own home.
If you cannot attend either meeting on April 23 or May 4, please call 615-215-8181 and leave your name and phone number. A Habitat volunteer will contact you to provide additional information and perhaps mail an application to you.
To be considered, completed and signed applications must be postmarked by Friday, May 31, 2013.
The purpose of Habitat is to build houses and sell them at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford their own home. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations using volunteer labor and donated materials whenever possible.
Three men were injured in a two vehicle crash Thursday afternoon in the Blue Springs Community in front of the Bethel Methodist Church
57 year old Norman Hendrix of Dowelltown and 64 year old Eddie Malone of Smithville were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS. 47 year old Jeffery Stubbe of Smithville was taken to the hospital by a private vehicle.
Trooper Craig Wilkerson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Stubbe was driving a 2002 Nissan Altima south on Blue Springs Road when he apparently failed to yield to a 2003 GMC Sierra, driven by Hendrix who was east on Bethel Road. Malone was a passenger with Hendrix. After impact at the intersection, Hendrix' truck rolled over at least once and came to rest upright on its wheels. All three men were cited for not wearing their seatbelts.
After a hearing which lasted all day and into the night, the state's Utility Management Review Board Thursday dismissed a petition filed by a group of DeKalb Utility District ratepayers who were hoping to halt DUD plans to build a water treatment plant. Board members said the petitioners had failed to meet their burden of proof that DUD rates or services provided were unreasonable. The hearing was held in Smithville at the DeKalb County Complex auditorium.
"I do not believe that the petitioners presented a case for water rates," said one member of the UMRB board. "They presented a case for not wanting Smithville to lose DeKalb Utility District as a customer. What the petitioner proved was that Smithville didn't want to lose a customer, not that the rates were improper," he said.
Barring an appeal or any other review, the DUD apparently may now proceed with its plans to construct a water treatment plant.
Nashville attorney Dewey Branstetter, Jr, who represented the DeKalb Utility District, told WJLE after the hearing that he hopes the issue can now be put to rest. "I believe it was a good day for the DeKalb Utility District. The hearing, I believe showed that the petition was not well founded. There was no evidence that the DeKalb Utility District had not established sufficient rates. The district has basically done nothing wrong. I think that came out during the course of this hearing. I think it also became apparent during this hearing that even though they may have gotten the ten percent of the ratepayers to sign the petition (a requirement for forcing the UMRB hearing) that this is all really about Smithville not wanting to lose DeKalb Utility District as a customer. Fortunately, the board found that the petitioners had not met their burden of proof and dismissed the petition and we hope that this matter will now be at an end," said Branstetter.
As to whether the board could have chosen to intervene in the DUD's decision to proceed with plans to build the water treatment plant, Branstetter said "One of the issues was whether they (UMRB Board) would address a DUD business judgment. In this particular case, the statute says they are to review the rates and services so I guess they possibly could have said we're going to look specifically at just the water treatment plant as a service. But overall what they ultimately said was there was insufficient proof on the part of the petitioners and the City of Smithville to show that the rates and services that the DeKalb Utility District offers were not reasonable. They didn't meet their burden of proof to show that DUD rates and services were unreasonable. My opinion is that this matter is now at an end. I would hope and believe that based on what happened here today that the wise decision would be for (petitioners) to not take this matter any further. They have had their day in court. They have lost and I hope that is the end of it," said Branstetter.
Nashville attorney and former Metro Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, who represented the DUD ratepayers or petitioners told WJLE after the hearing that he is still hopeful the parties can come to some agreement "I think the ratepayers had a very important day in court before this board today. I think they wanted from the beginning the opportunity to tell the state, their neighbors, and all who are interested what is happening and what they felt needed to be done. So that the fact that they were able to present all that they wanted to present I think was an important part of this process. Obviously there are decisions to be made about where this leads. There are opportunities for review and all those have to be considered. In the long run, what we all hope is that the lowest possible rates can be obtained and the highest level of cooperation between everybody can occur. Who knows. I think this board wanted that to happen and maybe it yet will," said Purcell.
The City of Smithville, which stands to lose its largest water customer if DUD goes through with its plan to build its own water treatment plant, hired a public relations firm last April, the Calvert Street Group, to launch a grassroots campaign to try to stop the project. A petition drive was started and at least ten percent of DUD customers signed it, triggering a review by the UMRB.
But some members of the UMRB were less than impressed with Smithville's PR firm, suggesting Thursday that the petition drive was not initiated by ratepayers themselves but by the Calvert Street Group, which has a self interest because it is working for and getting paid by the city. "I believe there was major bias demonstrated throughout this hearing today where the public relations firm actually drummed up the people to sign the petition and even offered them prizes if they got a lot of people signed up," said one of the UMRB board members.
The same board member also said he had a concern that the City of Smithville would offer to make a deal on a new water contract with the DUD only two days before the UMRB board meeting, when the city could have done that months ago.
Several witnesses were called to testify in the case including DUD ratepayer Randy Rhody, the DUD's CPA Tom Janney, the DUD's utility engineer Buddy Koonce, the City of Smithville's utility engineer J.R. Wauford, Smithville Secretary Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, DUD manager Jon Foutch, and DUD board member Hugh Washer, among others.
Randy Rhody, a twenty five year customer of DeKalb Utility District and one of the petitioners opposed to the proposed DUD water plant, testified during the hearing. "We want the plant stopped. We want to keep things exactly the way they are. That's the only way to hold the rates the way they are. If we keep the rates exactly the same as they are then everybody will be happy. We don't need redundant services and pay more. It doesn't make good sense that we would raise everybody's rates. We already have good water. Why do we need two districts with one not getting along with the other wanting to raise rates and build another plant?. It seems like a silly thing to undertake. The water has always been great here. Rates have been okay. We don't need anything more than that. All we need is running water. Good quality water at reasonable rates. We've always had that. There's no need to raise the rates and do a redundant thing," said Rhody
Smithville was represented in the case by city attorney Vester Parsley along with Purcell and Jason Holleman of Nashville. Purcell and Holleman also represented the ratepayers opposed to the DUD water plant. In addition to Branstetter, the DeKalb Utility District was represented by it's own attorney Keith Blair
In his opening remarks, Purcell said there was no need to raise water rates to pay for another water plant in the county since the City of Smithville could supply the need without raising rates. "The City of Smithville built a water plant with enough capacity for its citizens and many more. In 1966, the DeKalb Utility District was formed. It became and remains the largest customer of Smithville. The DUD uses more than one half of all of the water that is produced by Smithville. And even with that amount of water being supplied to the DUD, Smithville has maintained capacity in a very conscientious and deliberate way. A capacity that is more than twice as what is currently used. Enough to meet all the needs of DeKalb County and Smithville forever. For half a century this county, this relationship has functioned together for the benefit of all the ratepayers. Specifically the ratepayers within the DUD. But then something changed. Ten months ago the DeKalb Utility District decided they wanted their own plant. They said we want our own supply lines. We want to buy our own bonds. We want to pay for our own maintenance. We want our own capital costs and our own overhead and we want our own much higher rates. We will end a fifty year relationship. We'll borrow millions of dollars. We will build our own plant and of course, we will raise our rates because we must. If we're going to do all that our rates must go up by a lot. There's only one place to get (that money) going forward over the decades that follow and that is from the ratepayers. The citizens of DeKalb County, many of whom have gathered and are represented here today, the petitioners, these ratepayers are here to ask you to stop this. To stop the construction of an unnecessary plant that will compel a mass expenditure of money but more particularly and directly to stop the resulting significant increase in the rates that will be borne by these people forever at a time when everyone is asked for more efficiency in government. For more cooperative and collaborative government action. The ratepayers have come as respectfully as they know how to the only place, the only people who can make this happen. So we ask the UMRB to stop the plant. To stop the waste. To stop this unnecessary expansion of government. Just say no. And in the process ask these folks to reflect on a half century of working together for all of the people of this county and all of the people served by these utility districts. At the end of this all, you (UMRB) are the only people who have the right and the power to provide another fifty years and I would hope many more (years) of smaller and more efficient government, more efficient utility service, lower costs, and better results for all of the people of DeKalb County who are in this utility district," said Purcell.
Parsley, in his opening statement, said the city is offering the DUD a new water contract that would cost less than building a new water plant over the next ten years. " The City of Smithville has the capacity to produce four million gallons of water per day. We're currently (using) a little less than half of that. We have over two million gallons per day capacity that we can use for growth in the city and DUD. The DUD, in the past on the average has purchased between 22 and 25 million gallons per month from the City of Smithville. The city recently used a grant and took some money it had and did a complete remodeling of the water plant whereby we installed new valves, new intakes, pumps, etc and two new generators to take care of the pumping station at the lake and at the water treatment plant. The cost of those improvements exceeded three million dollars. We have never had an interruption of services in all our years of business. We are ready and still able to provide all the water that DUD needs not only for present but for future expansion with having a capacity in excess of two million gallons that is not even being utilized. We have tried to set a rate and offer it to DUD for the next ten years, whereby we would sell them water at a rate of $2.20 per thousand gallons for the next five years and for the second five years at $2.40 per thousand gallons. That would be a fixed rate. I might point out that the DUD contracted with (CPA) Tom Janney who did a study for them regarding the construction of this plant and in that study, he projected a cost for producing water, if they constructed this plant. The prices I just quoted you are far below those which he said would be necessary in order to fund the plant. Who is going to pay for this plant? The ratepayers. DUD has already increased their rates seven percent and have projected a seven percent rate increase for the next two years. The opinions of Mr. Janney in his report were that the DUD could expect a three percent growth rate for the next twenty or more years when in fact DeKalb County and other surrounding counties in the district have never had much more than a one or one and a half percent growth rate. We think that their growth rate (projection) is unrealistic and that will put a heavier burden on the current and new members of DUD in serving those customers. The offer we have made could be expanded. We believe our board would be willing to offer additional rates in addition to those ten years we've planned for. However, we need cooperation from DUD's board. We feel like the building of a new plant for DUD would far exceed what the reasonable rate should be for their customers and that to build this plant is both unnecessary in that it puts an undue burden on the ratepayers and upon the DUD's financial situation itself. The goals they've set are overly optimistic and could place the DUD in a financial crisis in the future. We hope you will rule that this plant is not necessary and should not go forward," said Parsley.
Branstetter, in addressing the board, said the DUD's rates are reasonable. "There is a wrong that can be righted today and that's the filing of a petition to try to stop a water treatment plant that we will show is necessary for the customers of the DeKalb Utility District. We're here on a ratepayer's petition for you to review the services and rates of the DeKalb Utility District. In reality we're here because the City of Smithville simply does not want to lose the DeKalb Utility District as a customer. That's what it boils down to pure and simple. The proof is going to show that DeKalb Utility District's rates are reasonable and that the proposed rates in the future are reasonable. That their current services are reasonable and their proposed services to be offered are reasonable. And we're going to show that all the DeKalb Utility District intends to do has one purpose, to be in the best interest of the customers of the DeKalb Utility District. Its not the responsibility of the DeKalb Utility District to be concerned about what may happen if they quit purchasing water from the City of Smithville. They have one obligation. Serve their customers. Pure and simple. You're going to hear proof that the costs to build the plant are accurately reasonable. They are projections, just like all projections are. You're going to hear that the district will save money over the long run, maybe not in the first two, three or four years but over the long run there will be a significant cost savings to the district and in effect to the customers of the DeKalb Utility District if the water plant is built. We will show that it is in the best interest of the customers of the DeKalb Utility District, now and in the future for this water plant to be built. Contrary to what the petitioners with the City of Smithville may say, there are efficiencies that will be served by building this water treatment plant. You will hear from several outside experts including Tom Janney, the accountant for the district. He is going to show that based on his projections as an accountant who has performed work for utility districts, not just DUD, but for utility districts for years, that long term its in the best interest financially for this district to build its own water treatment plant. You'll hear from Buddy Koonce, the engineer for the district, who not only does work for this district, but dozens of districts across the state. He has been involved in probably thirty or forty water treatment plants, either building, upgrading, or renovating them. He will testify as to what the anticipated costs are. They are reasonable and appropriate and the projections are accurate. And his projections concerning the costs to operate the plant, we believe will be shown to be accurate. Finally, you're going to hear from Terry Mitchell. He is with the Jackson and Thornton Utility Consultants and he will opine as to why the DeKalb Utility District should build its water treatment plant. He will opine that their current rates are reasonable. That their future rates are reasonable and that they are sufficient in covering the costs of operations as well as the costs of bonds and interests with sufficient reserves as the statute requires in a rate review. At the end of the day, when all the proof is in, we're going to ask you to just say no to the rate payers petition. The burden is on the ratepayers to show that our rates and services are not reasonable. It's not on the district to prove that they are. We believe that when all the proof is in there is just one conclusion. The rates are appropriate. The services to be provided are appropriate and that the building of this water treatment plant is in the best interest of the customers of the DeKalb Utility District. We believe you will determine that the ratepayers petition is without merit," said Branstetter.
Members of the UMRB are Ann Butterworth, Chair; Tom Moss, Vice-Chair; S. Donnie Leggett, Charlie Anderson, Loyal Featherstone, Donald Stafford, Troy Roach, Jason West, and Rebecca Hunter. An adminstrative law judge oversaw the hearing.
The City of Smithville earned almost a perfect score in the latest sanitary survey of the water treatment system conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Water Resources Water Supply Section.
The Smithville Water System earned 596 points out of a possible 599 points for a numerical score of 99% which places the water system in the state's "Approved" category, according to Johnny Walker, manager of the Division of Water Resources for the Cookeville Environmental Office.
The survey, performed by David Phillips of the Division of Water Resources, consisted of a records review to document the operational performance of the system, and on-site inspections of the water treatment plant and distribution system. The Sanitary Survey covered the time period January 9, 2012 through February 21, 2013.
In a letter to Mayor Jimmy Poss, Walker wrote " the record organization has much improved. The records adequately reflect the improved operation of both treatment and distribution systems."
Apparently, the only finding that kept the city from receiving a perfect score in the survey was that "all dead end mains should have a suitable flushing device installed. According to the regulations, all dead end mains and all low points in water mains shall be equipped with a blow-off or other suitable flushing mechanism capable of producing velocities adequate to flush the main. The material needed to correct this deficiency has been ordered. The Division appreciates the rapid response by the Water System to meet the requirement".
The letter further notes that "recent major improvements in the Smithville Water System are easily recognized and sincerely appreciated. Mr. Todd Bowman (Water Plant Supervisor) has obviously gone above and beyond to ensure exemplary operation of the Water Treatment Plant. The customers of the Smithville Water System are very fortunate. The Division would like to thank Bowman, Kevin Robinson (Public Works Director), and their staffs for their courtesy and prompt response to requests during this survey," wrote Walker.
During Monday night's city council meeting, Hunter Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer said the state conducts these sanitary surveys about every eighteen months now. "The last one we had was a 94 (score) with several provisions. This was a 99 (score) without any provisions which shows our water system is top notch," said Hendrixson.
The fifth annual Relay for Life 5K and One-Mile Fun Run/Walk is set for Saturday, May 4th and the deadline for pre-registration is, April 19th.
Race entries will also be accepted on the morning of the race at the check-in location at Green Brook Park in Smithville, but will not be guaranteed a t-shirt.
The event is sponsored by and raises money for the American Cancer Society. The entry fee is a donation of at least $25 for pre-registration and $30 for those registering after April 19th. The race begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. RAIN OR SHINE at Green Brook Park on Saturday, May 4th. All participants must check in by 7:30 a.m.
One Mile Fun Run as follows:
Top 3 for Girls
Top 3 for Boys
Tee shirts will be given to all pre-registered participants on the day of the race. All other participants will receive a t-shirt as supplies last. Awards will be given to the male and female individuals with the overall best times in the 5K Run and the best times in each 5K age divisions.
The Relay 5K Registration Form includes a place for your name, phone number, address, city, state, zip code, your email address, your T-shirt size, your age, and your sex. Check on the form whether you are participating in the 5K Run or the One-Mile Fun Run Walk.
Mail your registration to: Relay for Life 5K Run, 463 White Oak Drive, Smithville, TN 37166. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Roth Terrell at 931-639-7447 or Misty Adcock at 931-607-5982 Make checks payable to Relay for Life. Registration forms are available at the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and Smithville area banks and restaurants, DeKalb County Community and Fitness Center.
Spring and summer mean having fun in the sun and enjoying many outdoor activities. Keeping your family safe is also important. The Tennessee Department of Health reminds Tennesseans that preventing exposure of people and their pets to the rabies virus is a priority, especially during this time of year.
Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs and cats, as required by Tennessee law and local ordinances. Owners are urged to have their dogs (3 months of age or older) and cats (6 months of age or older) vaccinated. Store purchased vaccines are not legally acceptable.
Vaccination clinics will be held on the following dates and locations:
Animal Clinic of Smithville, 440 East Broad Street
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 19: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Liberty Community Center
April 20: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
DeKalb County Animal Clinic, 1020 West Broad Street
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to Noon
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 19: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 20: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Wheeler Veterinary Clinic, 690 North Congress Boulevard
April 17: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 18: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April 19: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Silver Point Community Center
April 20: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
A fee of $7.00 will be charged for each innoculation.
For more information contact an Environmental Health Specialist at the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7599.
Humans can be exposed to rabies when attempting to assist, feed or handle wild animals. If a wild or domestic animal is seen as ill or acting strangely, it should be reported to your local animal control agency. Bats in particular should not be handled. If a bat is found inside, in a swimming pool, or brought home by your pets, use precautions and consult your local health department.
Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies infection occurs primarily in wildlife in Tennessee, but it can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans and family pets. Bites are the most common means of transmission; contact with saliva from an infected animal can also be a concern.
Citizens can take the following actions to help prevent the spread of rabies:
Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.
Keep children away from any wild or dead animals. Educate them not to touch or attempt to pick up, feed or handle any wild or unfamiliar domestic animals, especially those that are or appear to be sick or injured.
Do not disturb bats. Instead, consult your local health department or animal control agency for assistance in dealing with potential exposure to bats.
For more information or assistance with a potential rabies exposure, call your local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health emergency line at 615-741-7247.
The Smithville firehall will be dedicated in honor of the late Mr. Cecil Burger, longtime former Smithville mayor and alderman who passed away recently. While the building will apparently not be renamed for him, it will bear a plaque in appreciation to Mr. Burger for his support of the fire department in having the building constructed.
The aldermen gave their blessing for the dedication at the request of Fire Chief Charlie Parker during Monday night's city council meeting. "We would like to dedicate the new firehall building in honor of Mr. Cecil Burger. We've discussed it with the family. Mr. Burger was very instrumental, both as mayor and alderman in the construction, development, and planning of the fire hall building. He was a very good supporter of the fire department throughout the years. We're going to see about putting up a plaque in honor of Mr. Burger at the fire hall. We would like to get permission from the board to do that," said Chief Parker.
The Smithville Fire Department hosted a dedication, open house, and ribbon cutting in September, 2008 to commemorate the opening of the new fire hall downtown.
The current members of the DeKalb County Election Commission have been reappointed by the Tennessee Election Commission.
The state election commission made these appointments on Monday April 1st. The term of each member is for two years.
Members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, Jim Dean, Harry Lasser, and Richard Hearon Puckett. Vanatta and Dean are beginning their third terms. Parker has served since 1992. All three are republicans. Lasser, a democrat, is starting his second term. Puckett, also a democrat, has been filling the unexpired term of Kenneth Moore, who died last year. This will be Puckett's first full term.
Since the state legislature is made up of a majority of GOP lawmakers, Republicans have the right to hold majority memberships on the Tennessee Election Commission as well as all county election commissions in Tennessee. The appointments to local commissions are made by the state election commission.
Regarding the political division of county election commissions, state law states that " three members shall be members of the majority party and two members shall be members of the minority party".
"The members of the majority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."
"The members of the minority party on the state election commission shall appoint the persons who are required to be members of that party on county election commissions."
"When members of another statewide political party are required to be appointed to a county election commission, they shall be nominated by the party's state primary board."
"Before appointing county election commissioners, the members of the state election commission shall consult with the members of the general assembly serving each of the counties as to the persons to be appointed to the county election commissions".
Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold its next meeting April 10 at 4:00 p.m. at the Election Commission Office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse.
The board will likely reorganize and reappoint the Administrator of Elections.