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County Budget Committee Completes Work Recommending Passage of 2020-21 Spending Plan with No Increase in Property Tax Rate

May 27, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County property owners will not see a tax rate increase this year.

The county budget committee wrapped up its work for the summer Thursday night and voted to recommend approval of a consolidated budget including all county departments (county general, highways, schools) for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps presented to the budget committee the revised spending plan for schools which was adopted by the Board of Education Tuesday night. The committee gave its approval for the school budget and then accepted the spending plan from the local highway department. On the general purpose schools budget the vote was 3-0. Committee member Sabrina Farler had to abstain since the school budget includes a pay raise for certified personnel and she is employed by the school system. The same would have been true for committee member Anita Puckett but she was unable to attend Thursday night’s meeting. Fellow committee members Jeff Barnes, Dr. Scott Little, and Jerry Adcock voted in favor.

The proposed consolidated budget will be in the hands of all fourteen county commissioners within days and will be up for passage by the commission at its next regular monthly meeting on July 27 at 6:30 p.m.

The budget committee is recommending that the property tax rate remain the same at $2.1235 cents per $100 of assessed value to be divided up the same as this past year:

*County General: $1.2135 cents
*Highway/Public Works: 0.04 cents
*General Capital Projects: 0.9 cents
*Debt Service: 0.13 cents
*General Purpose Schools: 0.65 cents

In addition to setting the property tax rate, the county commission will be asked to approve the 2020-21 appropriations resolution on the proposed consolidated budget and to fund various non-profit organizations.

Highlights of the 2020-21 consolidated budget include the following as approved by the budget committee and subject to final approval by the county commission:

*The county is to receive a one-time local government grant from the state totaling $822,841 and the monies are to be divided equally to the capital projects fund ($411,421) to help pay for one-time budget requests this year and $411,421 to a general fund reserve “rainy day” account to be spent only as authorized by the county commission. County Mayor Tim Stribling said he wanted to save half of the grant money not knowing how state revenues might be affected over the next year due to COVID-19.

*To continue meeting the requirements of the Federal Affordable Care Act, the county plans to increase its contribution toward employee health insurance from $315 to $355 per month.

*Funds to cover pay raises for county employees including the sheriff’s department and ambulance service staff who are stepping to a higher level on existing wage scales for their departments. State approved pay raises for county officials are also included in the budget.

*Board of Education: $1,000 pay raise per teacher (certified personnel) and a $500 increase per non-certified employee. Funds are included in the school budget for the purchase of 24.5 acres of property on North Congress Boulevard near Northside Elementary School for construction of a new pre-K to 2nd grade elementary school. The price is $18,000 per acre for a total of $441,000. The purchase is subject to a favorable TDOT traffic study. The school budget includes $500,000 of available funds to cover the land purchase cost.

*Sheriff’s Department and Jail: $165,000 to purchase and equip 5 patrol cars and $56,850 for tasers and body cams from capital projects fund.

*DeKalb Fire Department: An increase in the hourly pay from $10 to $12 for the one existing shared firefighter position to be funded at 40 hours per week for a total of $24,960; $10,000 (unspent from $12,500 allocated this past year) from the capital projects fund to complete upgrades and add restrooms to three firehalls; $75,000 from capital projects to meet a local match for a Community Development Block Grant which if approved would fund the purchase of another tanker truck.

*New Fire Station : $25,000 seed money from capital projects fund designated toward future development of a fire station in the Wolf Creek Community

*Fire hydrants: $12,000 from capital projects funds to install two fire hydrants in the Wolf Creek community.

*Courthouse: $6,000 from capital projects fund to install electronic door opening capability at the first floor entrance to the courthouse to make it more handicapped accessible.

*Signage: $40,000 from capital projects fund for electronic sign outside at the county complex

*DeKalb EMS: $155,000 from capital projects fund for new ambulance;, $18,000 from capital projects fund for generator at EMS building; $5,500 from capital projects fund for EMS portable radios.

*Solid Waste: $20,000 from capital projects fund for pickup truck; $50,000 from capital projects for pavement repairs at convenience (garbage collection) sites; and $55,000 to purchase a few new open top dumpsters and compactors.

*Highway Department: $93,000 from capital projects fund to purchase a pneumatic roller in doing work on tar and chip roads.

*County Clerk Office: $6,760 to fund digital scanning of all county legislative body (county commission) minute books to better preserve these records.

*Chamber of Commerce: Increase county contribution to Chamber from $17,500 to $25,000.

DeKalb Prevention Coalition to Host Community Yard Sale Fundraiser

July 9, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Join the effort to fight substance abuse in our community by supporting the annual Community Yard Sale fundraiser for the DeKalb Prevention Coalition Saturday, July 11 in the parking lot of the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. featuring a yard sale and lunch. COVID-19 safety procedures will be observed and all proceeds will be used to support the mission of the coalition to reduce dependence on harmful and potentially lethal substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Lisa Cripps, Coordinator of the DPC, said the community has already generously donated clothes for the yard sale and everything will be reasonably priced. We have lots of pocket books, tons of shoes in all sizes, kids clothes, teen clothes, men and women clothes and in many of the great name brands. We also have a few pieces of furniture and quite a bit of toys. Its just $1 to $3 dollars on all items. For lunch we will be serving chips, hot dogs, and drinks for $5.00 and we’ll have bake sale goodies too so everybody come out and join us for lunch,” she said.

In addition to the food and shopping opportunities, free white cloth reusable masks will be available for those concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic as well as free Narcan kits and training in the proper use of Naloxone.

“Narcan or Naloxone Nasal Spray is recommended for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. It has been proven to be an extremely effective medication that stops opioid overdoses and saves lives. It can be sprayed into the nose of a person who has overdosed and it usually takes about two minutes to work. After administering Narcan to someone who has overdosed, the person will regain consciousness. We will have trainers there Saturday under a tent and they will be able to train you in less than 10 minutes. You will also get a free Narcan kit just for participating,” said Cripps.

Although the Coalition receives grant funding to help further its mission, local funding is also vitally important. “We run off of a grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services but that is regimented on how we can spend our money so we need some extra to go along with that and this fundraiser is one way we get those extra dollars. All money raised will go back to our community to help reduce substance abuse here,” added Cripps.

DeKalb School District Needs Bus Drivers

July 9, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County School District needs more bus drivers.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps is asking for help from anyone eligible to serve.

“If you or someone you know would like to drive a school bus we are taking applications. We are in dire need of bus drivers and you can call the main office here at 615-597-4084 or go on-line to apply to drive a bus. If you don’t want to drive full time we will accept substitute drivers as well,” said Director Cripps.

To be a school bus driver you must be at least 25 years old and have a CDL license, Class A or Class B. You must have a Passenger and School Bus Endorsement, carry a current medical card, have a clean DMV record, and you must be able to pass a background check and drug screening. After a bus driver is hired, there are random drug tests at the bus garage for all drivers.

DeKalb County Schools reopen Monday, August 3

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