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Twenty Four Indicted by Grand Jury

July 24, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Twenty four people were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday including four named in sealed indictments.

Arraignment day is Monday, August 6.

The names of the defendants and their charges are as follows:

Samer Walid Abdalla- Possession with intent to sell/deliver a schedule II drug (Fentanyl), unlawful possession of a weapon, assault (2 counts), and aggravated assault

Melody Ann Bandy- Theft over $10,000

John William Cline- Theft over $2,500

Calen Cory Cole- Driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain lane of traffic

Michael Brandon Colwell- Introduction of a controlled substance into a penal institution (2 counts), DUI, driving on a revoked license, evading arrest, theft over $2,500, and DUI per se

Terry Wayne Knowles- Driving on a revoked license (7th offense)

Amy Jeanette Lawson- Introduction of contraband (2 counts)

James David Linder- Driving on a revoked license

Crystal Lachelle (Thompson) Murphy- Driving on a suspended license and violation of financial responsibility

Melissa Faye Murphy and Michaela Lynn Murphy- Theft over $1,000

Michael Alex Ponder- Possession with intent to sell/deliver over 0.5 grams of Methamphetamine, possession of a handgun while under the influence, DUI, violation of the implied consent law, and simple possession of a schedule III drug

William Sterling Popejoy, Jr.- Driving under the influence (2nd offense)

Christopher Allen Scruggs- Possession with intent to sell/deliver a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine) over 0.5 grams, possession with intent to sell/deliver a schedule IV drug (Clonazepam), possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a prohibited weapon

Julian Guerrero Soto- Driving on a revoked license (2nd offense), violation of financial responsibility, and violation of the stop sign law

Jason Douglas Stembridge- Theft under $1,000

Brian Alan Young- Driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Andrew Payton West- Assault

Jason Lee Whitefield- Driving under the influence

James Dean Wolfe-Aggravated assault (2 counts), reckless endangerment, evading arrest, speeding, and driving on a revoked license (4th offense)




School Board Faced with Decision on Giving Pay Raises or Bonuses

July 24, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The Board of Education may be faced with a decision on whether to go through with a plan to give local pay raises or bonuses to teachers and support staff.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the County Commission approved the new school budget for 2018-19 but took no action on the Board of Education’s request for the county to allocate a larger share of local option sales tax money for schools to fund the raises.

Concerned that the school system might run over budget this year, the Board of Education voted earlier this month to make this request of the County Commission. School board members said at the time that if the County Commission did not grant the request, they might have to opt for giving bonuses instead of raises.

Under the proposed school budget, all certified personnel including teachers would be given a $600 local pay raise in addition to the $600 increase they are getting from the state for a total of $1,200. Support staff would also get a local $600 pay hike.

The school board initially wanted to give teachers and other certified personnel a $2,400 local pay raise along with the $600 state increase and $1,500 for support staff but the budget committee of the county commission rejected it on May 31 along with other extra spending proposals included in the original school budget for 2018-19.

Last month, the budget committee accepted the school board’s scaled down proposal but with the understanding that there would be no local tax increase to pay for it and that any overspending would have to be covered by cash reserves from the school system’s $6.1 million fund balance.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said the proposed pay raises would be an additional cost to the school system of from $300,000 to $400,000 per year. However the system will be saving about $200,000 this year by not filling four vacant teaching positions at the schools.

The county generates almost $2.5 million each year in local option sales tax funds for schools (referred to as sinking fund). Of that, the county transfers $1,540,000 each year for the operation of schools along with $800,000 to $900,00 for school debt service obligations. The so-called sinking fund replenishes each year from local option sales tax collections in the county and four cities. The fund was set up decades ago by the county and intended to help fund school construction and other school capital outlay projects.

During Monday night’s County Commission meeting, County Mayor Tim Stribling explained that nearly all the money allocated to the school system from the local purpose fund (local option sales taxes) is spent each year for schools.

“If you look at 2017 and these are audited figures, we budgeted $2,500,000 (sales tax money for schools). We actually collected $2,653,000. We give to schools $1,540,000 from that fund every year to operate on in the general fund and then we pay from $800,000 to $900,000 every year toward school debt. Last year it was $829,853. We also had to pay the Trustee’s commission of $26,360. That put our expenditures from that fund at $2,396,213. That left us with $257,173 more than we spent. As of June 30 this year, we ended the local purpose fund in the black by $358,784 which put that fund balance at $1,968,932,” said County Mayor Stribling.

One problem with allocating more funding is that the sales tax collections fluctuate each year.

“We ended 2017 in the black at $257,173 (local purpose fund for schools) but in 2015 we gained only $3,909 so everything we budget for schools from that fund is pretty much spent each year. And if we have a recession and the sales tax revenue doesn’t come in as much then we could have to go into the fund balance to offset that,” added Stribling.

“At this time don’t they (school system) have six million dollars of their own money that they have not spent that they have collected from us,” asked Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip?

“They (school system) finished 2017 with a fund balance of $6.1 million,” answered County Mayor Stribling.

“So they have their own money,” added Atnip.

While the school system ended the year 2014 in the red by $253,836, it was back in the black by $144,159 at the close of the 2015 budget year; by $153,335 in 2016; and by $1,052,912 in 2017 putting the fund balance or cash reserves for schools at $6.1 million. The school budget is projected to close out the 2018 year in the red by $886,937 but actual numbers are not yet known.




New County Budget Adopted with No Tax Increase

July 24, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Your county property tax rate will remain the same for another year.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW PDF OF 2018-19 DEKALB COUNTY BUDGET)

DeKalb-FINAL 2019 Budget 6-21-18.pdf (270.1 KB)

The County Commission Monday night adopted the new consolidated budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year and set the property tax rate at $1.8335 per $100 of assessed value, the same as last year. The vote was 13-0 in each case.

The tax rate is to be divided among the funds as follows:

County General: 0.9635 cents
Highway/Public Works: 0.03 cents
General Capital Projects: 0.10 cents
Debt Service: 0.13 cents
General Purpose Schools: 0.61 cents

The $42.9 million county spending plan is funded by local, state, and federal dollars.

One cent of the property tax rate generates $46,658 at a 94% collection or 6% delinquency rate.

The new budget includes funds to cover pay raises approved earlier this year under wage scales for county employees including the sheriff’s department and ambulance service staff. An additional employee position is also being funded for the Assessor of Property’s Office. State approved pay raises for county officials are included in the budget.

From the capital projects fund the county plans to spend $165,000 to purchase and equip five new patrol cars for the sheriff’s department; $135,000 for a new ambulance; $165,000 (set side) for a fire hall in the Four Seasons Community;$40,000 for courthouse repairs and $10,000 for repairs to the Omega Apparel building.

The school budget includes a local pay raise (or bonus) of $600 for all certified personnel including teachers along with the additional $600 pay increase they are getting from the state for a total of $1,200. Support staff will also get a local $600 pay hike (or bonus).

The Board of Education had asked that the county commission authorize the teacher and support staff pay raises to be funded from the school system’s share of the local option sales tax revenues instead of the school system’s fund balance (reserves). The commission took no action on the request.

County Mayor Tim Stribling explained that nearly all the money allocated to the school system from the local purpose tax fund (sales taxes) is spent each year for schools.

“If you look at 2017 and these are audited figures, we budgeted $2,500,000 (sales tax money for schools). We actually collected $2,653,000. We give to schools $1,540,000 from that fund every year to operate on in the general fund and then we pay from $800,000 to $900,000 every year toward school debt. Last year it was $829,853. We also had to pay the Trustee’s commission of $26,360. That put our expenditures from that fund at $2,396,213. That left us with $257,173 more than we spent. As of June 30 this year, we ended the local purpose fund in the black by $358,784 which put that fund balance $1,968,932,” said County Mayor Stribling.

One problem with allocating more funding is that the sales tax collections fluctuate each year.

“We ended 2017 in the black at $257,173 (local purpose fund for schools) but in 2015 we gained only $3,909 so everything we budget for schools from that fund is pretty much spent each year. And if we have a recession and the sales tax revenue doesn’t come in as much then we could have to go into the fund balance to offset that,” added Stribling.

“At this time don’t they have six million dollars of their own money that they have not spent that they have collected from us,” asked Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip?

“They finished 2017 with a fund balance of $6.1 million,” answered County Mayor Stribling.

“So they have their own money,” added Atnip.

While the school system ended the year 2014 in the red by $253,836, it was back in the black by $144,159 at the close of the 2015 budget year; by $153,335 in 2016; and by $1,052,912 in 2017 putting the fund balance or cash reserves for schools at $6.1 million. The school budget is projected to close out the 2018 year in the red by $886,937 but actual numbers are not yet known.

In addition to the pay raises, the budget for schools includes $65,000 in new money to buy science textbooks.

One new school bus will be purchased.

Money to purchase Chrome Books for the 3rd through 5th grades at a cost of $240,000 will be carried over since it was budgeted this past year and not spent. Students from the 6th grade through high school already have Chrome Books. Extra funds ($20,000) is included to repair and replace existing Chrome Books.

The school budget has $10,000 in new spending for meeting mandates of state evaluation and testing.

Due to the increasing demands of technology, the school board plans to make a current half time computer tech position full time ($13,150 in new money) which would give the school system three techs.

Extra funds are also in the budget for employee matching benefits and $2,500 to help schools cover their phone bills.

County funding to non-profit organizations for 2018-19 is as follows:

Upper Cumberland Development District: $ 2,000

Tennessee Forestry Division:$ 1,500

Plateau Mental Health Center: $ 7,180

Senior Program: $ 38,029.05 (includes $6,000 for Alexandria Senior Center)

DeKalb County Soil Conservation District: $ 41,991.21

Chamber of Commerce:$ 17,500

Veterans Services Cemetery $ 7,215

DeKalb County Rescue Squad: $ 22,821

Upper Cumberland Human Resources: $ 1,200

Upper Cumberland Reconnect: $925

Imagination Library:$ 7,200

Veterans Honor Guard:$ 2,000

DeKalb County Fair: $ 1,500

WCTE $ 5,000

Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center: $ 1,780

UCHRA Assessment – Homemaker Aide, etc. $ 9,245

Genesis House: $ 1,500

TOTAL NON-PROFITS $ 168,586.26




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