Pay Raise Requested for Judicial Commissioners

June 20, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

Judicial Commissioners are asking for an increase in pay.

The request was made during Thursday night’s county budget committee meeting.

The pay for each of the three Judicial Commissioners, Tammy Ashburn, Joy Whitman, and David Gash is $12,900 per year. The request is to up the pay by $1,000 per year for each of the three judicial commissioners.

Last September the county commission adopted a budget amendment to increase the pay at that time by $75 per month.

Duties of the Judicial commissioners include processing the following:

*Criminal summons for the general public

*Orders of protections

*Signing all arrest warrants for the Smithville, Alexandria, and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Departments, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Edgar Evins State Park Rangers, and TWRA Officers.

*Signing search warrants and search warrants for blood draws

*Signing Mittimus, setting bonds

*Speaking with every person who has been arrested

*Answering any and all calls from the public

*Attending certification classes three days each year with no pay for hours attended.

Judicial Commissioners are subject to call at all hours of the day and night when on duty. Only one judicial commissioner works at a time during a one week period on call for 168 hours. They rotate their weeks one week on duty and two weeks off.

The budget committee has not yet acted on the request.

City Denies Funding for Third Full Time Firefighter This Year (View PDF of City Budget Here)

June 19, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

A year ago the City of Smithville created and funded another full time firefighter position. More than $40,000 (salary and benefits) was added to the budget last summer to pay for it and Dalton Roberts was later hired for the job joining Chief Charlie Parker as the only full time paid members of the Smithville Fire Department.

(Click link below to view city budget)


Last month, Chief Parker requested that the city fund a third firefighter in the 2021-22 budget but the aldermen approved the new budget on first reading June 7 without including a new position.

Prior to passage of the budget on second and final reading Thursday night, Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who also serves as Commissioner of the Police and Fire Departments, made a motion that the third paid firefighter position be included in the new budget but his motion died for the lack of a second.

Alderman Jacobs said there is a need for a third full time firefighter and the city has the money to meet that need.

“If we had a third person it would be exponentially the amount of help that would be because they could truly fight a fire. Two people really can’t do that very effectively and in the day time only two or three volunteers show up for a fire. Someone has to run the pump, the engine and you must have somebody to fight the fire with a hose and someone to help hold the hose. I just think it would be a true benefit to the city. They get a call almost every day and many days they get multiple calls and since we do have what I consider a healthy surplus I would like to see us move forward. I feel obligated to go to bat for the fire department since I am their commissioner. Even Baxter has a paid fire department,” said Alderman Jacobs.

Alderman Brandon Cox said while it could be considered next year, now is not the time to act.

“Charlie (Parker) comes to us and asks for an employee (full time firefighter) every year and he got one last year which is good and I think it has helped out a lot but this is short notice. Although you (Alderman Jacobs) are right and we are probably headed in that direction (more full time firefighters) this just seems a little bit last minute for me and I don’t think I would support adding that at this point but I definitely think it is a strong consideration for one or maybe two next year I don’t know,” said Alderman Cox.

The Smithville Fire Department is made up of twenty six volunteers plus two full time paid firefighters (Chief Parker and Firefighter Roberts). The regular pay salaries of the two full time firefighters combined is $84,553 according to the budget. Although they are not full time, volunteer firefighters get some money per call. The city budgets $50,000 annually in total for that expense.

After the firefighter issue was settled, the Aldermen Thursday night adopted the 2021-22 fiscal year budget on second and final reading.

In other business, the aldermen voted to transfer city employee Megan Moore, former director of the DeKalb Animal Shelter, to a clerk position at city hall to fill a vacancy.

The new city spending plan includes a 2% increase in water and sewer rates and tap fees.

City water customers currently pay $7.25 per thousand gallons of usage. That will go to $7.40 per thousand. Rates for customers outside the city limits will increase from $10.88 to $11.10 per thousand. City sewer customers pay $6.75 per thousand gallons. That will jump to $6.89 per thousand. The new rates are expected to generate up to $50,000 a year in new revenue.

City officials believe its wiser to implement smaller rate increases now rather than larger hikes later to keep incoming revenues ahead of expenses and that is also the recommendation of the state comptroller. A year ago, the city’s water and sewer fund was projected to end the current fiscal year June 30, 2021 in the red by $37,713 but by keeping a close eye on spending the city is now expected show a surplus of $142,631 by the close of this month. This time next year with the rate increases included, the water and sewer fund is forecast to be in the black by $58,575.

Under state law, if a utility continues to operate at a loss for more than two years and doesn’t address it, the state has the authority to force rate increases to make it solvent.

The city property tax rate will drop from 0.899 cents to the new certified tax rate levied by the state of 0.7523 cents per $100 of assessed value to offset new reappraisal property assessments. Although the new certified tax rate is to generate about the same amount of local property tax revenue as this past year, the city is projecting $1,274,471 in property tax collections in 2021-22, down by $20,000 from $1,295,000 this past year (2020-21).

Still, the General Fund is projected to end the current fiscal year in the black by $388,766 on June 30, 2021 and $249,161 to the good by June 30, 2022.

The General Fund Debt Service for the new police department building is projected to be $177,550 for the year including $100,000 in principal payments and $77,550 in interest on long-term debt.

The new budget also includes funding for:
* A 3% cost of living pay raise for hourly city employees with more than four years of service. Hourly workers with four years of service or less will receive a step raise on their employment anniversary date with a 3% cost of living increase July 1. Salaried employees will get a $5,000 pay raise.

*Another paid E911 dispatcher position at $40,405 (salary and benefits). This would increase the number of city funded dispatchers to four to a total annual cost of $160,000, up from $119,595

*City is to provide bonuses of $1,000 to full time employees of the general fund and water and sewer fund and $500 to two part time employees deemed essential with Federal American Rescue Plan grant funds. The total amount of the bonuses comes to $49,000 including $35,000 for the general fund and $14,000 for the water and sewer fund. The city is to get more than $1.3 million from this grant but the money can only be spent according to federal guidelines. The money will come to the city over two years and at least half of it will be used to replace deteriorating sewer lines.

*The city is increasing the uniform expense to the fire department from $10,000 to $25,000 per request of Fire Chief Charlie Parker to purchase new sets of turnout gear.

*2 new police cars and related equipment: $95,000 ($45,000 of which is grant funded with local match)
*Furniture and office equipment for new Police Department building: $125,000

*Salt truck: $20,000
*Bridge capital repairs: $25,000
*Street paving $335,000 which includes $250,000 grant
*Unspecified: $15,000

*10 portable radios: $9,200
*New Air Bags and Controller: $15,000
*Battery Powered Combination Rescue Tool: $10,000
*Swiftwater equipment: $5,000
*Site work for training site: $6,000
*Unspecified: $30,000

*Obstruction Clearing Grant: $899,012
*Unspecified: $10,000

*Lift and Forks: $20,000
*Unspecified: $5,000

*TN Local Government Support COVID 19 Grant- $136,000

*Walking Trail Improvements: $20,000
*Unspecified: $10,000

*Strainer: $10,000
*Unspecified: $5,000

*Unspecified: $10,000

*Unspecified: $30,000

*Unspecified: $5,000

*Unspecified: $5,000

*Meter reading software: $10,000
*Backhoe: $103,000
*Tube settlers: $30,000
*Replacement of sewer lines: $600,000 (Half of Federal COVID Grant Funds)

Chamber’s “Project Welcome Mat” Winners – 2021

June 18, 2021

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the 2021 “Project Welcome Mat” in time for the 50th Annual Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival July 2 & 3.

This year’s winners are as follows:

*People’s Choice – Tennessee Credit: “50 Years Strong, Covid Be Gone, Let’s Fiddle, Clap, and Clog All Weekend Long”

*Most Original – Wilson Bank and Trust” Half a Century Old, Fond Memories Told, Music, Crafts, and Food In a Jamboree Mood”

*Best Worded- Liberty State Bank: “50 Years of Crafts Abound, Fiddlin Sounds and Dancin All Around”

*Most Creative – Middle Tennessee Natural Gas:” Put on Your Shorts, Grab Your Shades, Going to be Huge 5 Decades”

Project Welcome Mat Honorable Mentions include: The Office of the Circuit Court Clerk; Creations by Donna; Love-Cantrell Funeral Home; RealSource, LLC; and Webb’s Pharmacy, Gifts & Soda Fountain & Advanced Urgent Care.

“We want to thank all the businesses for posting signs to welcome Jamboree visitors. We had twelve entries this year! It is very important to make sure that our guests know how appreciated and important they are to us,” said Chamber Director Suzanne Williams.

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