The Blount County Commission stepped back Tuesday from its earlier decision to move gradually to a unit system of county road management and governance, rescinding an action taken in May to turn over road maintenance and paving management of District 2 to the engineering department. The date originally set to make the transition was Oct. 1. The thinking was that, as other commissioners saw the improvement in efficiency and effectiveness that resulted, they, too, would decide to convert to unified control of road improvement and management by a single highly-qualified authority.
In discussing his wish to rescind the original action, District 2 Commissioner Mike Painter said he has decided it is too soon to move toward the unit system because the county and the commission itself are simply not ready yet. “I think the day will come and we will have a unit system, but that time hasn’t come yet,” Painter said.
District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert concurred, saying, “I don’t think the county is ready, either. As a commission, we’ve made progress getting things running pretty smoothly in recent years, and people like the way things are running now. The day for the unit system will come, but possibly not during our time in office,” he said.
Commission Chairman Chris Green summarized the retreat from making a relatively far-reaching change: (Changing to the unit system) “is contingent on commissioners unanimously wanting to make the change and being determined to make it work, and we’re not there yet.”
The commission voted to allow the expenditure of $119,500 previously escrowed from the sheriff’s department budget to purchase five new patrol vehicles. The motion further amended the budget to restore $20,000 to allow purchase of communications equipment for the vehicles, $10,000 for maintenance of department vehicles, and $8,550 required in addition to the $119,500 to purchase the five new patrol vehicles under consideration.
The commission passed two motions relating to the expansion and relocation of B&B Tire Landfill to a site in the Cleveland area. The first motion authorized a public awareness meeting to be held Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., at the Cleveland Community Center. It will be conducted as an informational session for the public by B&B Tire Landfill management. The second motion authorized a public hearing regarding the relocation, to be held under commission auspices Nov. 14, at 9 a.m., at the courthouse.
The commission approved District 4 Commissioner Nick Washburn’s ambitious 2019 paving schedule. See charts at right. Phase I is to be completed in its entirety. Phase 2 projects will be completed contingent on weather and available money, and only after other districts complete their primary paving schedules. Phase 2 projects not completed in 2019 will be completed in 2020.
Among other significant actions with public implications, the commission approved the Blount County Jail’s proposal for use of inmates to carry out a county wide trash pickup program.
In other actions, the commission:
• approved additional reimbursements to the districts totaling $268,545 for pipes, gravel, and liquid asphalt used on Moving Blount County Forward projects.
• approved reimbursement of $8,277 to District 1 for Sibleyville Road bridge, and approved further expenditures as necessary for projects already planned for 2019 and for which reasonable estimates can be made.
• approved social media policy and user guide.
• approved amendment to personnel policy and procedures manual to include guidelines for use of the Internet and social media.
• authorized the chairman to execute the contract with the Department of Human Resources for leased office space in the Frank Green Building.
• authorized the county administrator to dispose of, by the best means possible, eight wrecked or worn out sheriff’s department vehicles held at the Glover salvage yard.
• approved a voluntary $25,000 contribution in response to a request for assistance from Blount County Water Authority for a sewer line upgrade to support economic development in west Blount County.
• approved allowing sheriff-elect Mark Moon to assume the membership on the 911 board now held by Sheriff Loyd Arrington, who will resign the remainder of his term in Moon’s favor.
• renewed the appointments of the following members of the Economic Development Council Board: Greg Reid, Allen Gilliland, Bob Harvey, Danny Kelly, and Dewon Farmer.
• postponed until November the decision on how much to increase commissioners’ liability bond amounts.
• approved expenditure of $300 to $400 from the safety fund to pay cost to administer flu shots for county employees at the courthouse; cost of the shot itself to be paid by employee insurance, or out-of-pocket for $5.
At the recommendation of County Engineer Dustin Stewart, the commission:
• named the assistant emergency management agency (EMA) director as Blount County Floodplain Manager and adding that responsibility to the job description for the job.
• approved the revised Blount County Floodplain Ordinance.
• approved Floodplain Review Board appointments by title: county engineer, EMA director, 911 director, and one commissioner.
Quorum and future meetings
The commission chairman and all commissioners were present at the business meeting. The next commission work session will be held prior to the commission business meeting on Wednesday Nov. 14, at 9 a.m. The meeting will be preceded by the swearing in of District 1 and 3 commissioners, then by an abbreviated work session.
A public hearing is set for Oct. 11, at 9 a.m., for abandonment of Berry Road and an unnamed road off County Road 51. The courthouse renovation bid will be opened following the public hearing.