The Dyer County Budget Committee got a jump-start on looking at the 2013-2014 budget on Thursday morning. Commissioner Benny Spain, who serves as chairman of the committee, called the meeting to make committee members aware of some information pertaining to the spec buildings, state-mandated salary increases for elected officials and the state of the county's fire trucks.
After a brief prayer offered by Commissioner William Mallard and happy new-year wishes from Spain, the committee got right down to business, discussing the interest payments on the spec buildings shared between the county and the city of Dyersburg. The county began paying interest payments on the building in June 2012 and it will continue to pay interest only through June 2015. The payment amounts total $53,000 each year. Beginning in June 2016 the city and county will pay half of 1/15 of the principal plus interest.
Dyer County Trustee Judy Patton explained to the committee that when the budget was put together for 2012-2013 there was an oversight and the county was unaware that it would have a payment due immediately after the budget was passed. The oversight caused Mayor Richard Hill and Patton to scramble a bit to cover the costs, which they were able to do but it was a $53,000 expenditure they had not anticipated. Mallard asked if there was any possibility of reducing the interest payment. Hill responded that he did not think so because they received the loan for almost zero.
"I thought we received it (the loan) for 4 percent," said Mallard.
Hill confirmed that the loan was for 4 percent through four banks and he would be happy to contact them and see if the percentage could be lowered.
The committee moved on to discuss elected officials' salaries and the state-mandated increases that will result in the county spending an additional $6,589.15 in the upcoming 2013-2014 budget year. County Budget Director Nancy Broadstone informed the committee that it does not have to address the salaries of the mayor, sheriff and roads superintendent since they are well above the minimum requirements but did note that the annual salaries for the trustee, circuit clerk, chancery clerk, register of deeds and property assessor would all need to increase by $1,129.43. In addition the annual salary for the election administrator would need to increase by $942 to meet the minimum requirement.
Commissioner Jim Horner asked if the county had received something official from the state confirming the new salaries. Broadstone responded that the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) had updated the official minimum salary requirements.
"The state tells us what to pay them whether they send the money or not," said Hill. "They don't send the money but they mandate stuff and it hurts the county."
Horner commented that elected officials have more lobbyists and then it falls on the commissioners to find the money to implement the increases.
"They (the commissioners) don't have anyone to lobby for them and until they do it's going to continue going like its going," said Horner.
Spain asked Broadstone how much it would cost to give the county employees a 2 percent salary increase. Broadstone said that including Social Security and Medicare benefits it would cost the county $108,000 to give employees a salary increase. County employees have not had a salary increase since 2008 but have received a $500 bonus each of the last two years.
"We have to appropriate money for elected officials; everything else is optional," said Spain.
In other business the committee unanimously approved budget amendments on a motion by Commissioner Steve Moore and a second by Commissioner Bill Cloar. The budget amendments will have to be approved by the full county legislative body at its next meeting on Monday evening. Also to be presented to the CLB is a property bid in the amount of $1,000 by Annette Haymon on a property owned by the county through the tax sales. The property is located on Southern Avenue. Moore asked Patton if the county solicited bids for these properties. Patton responded they are not advertised in the paper but once a bid is placed and approved by the budget committee a notice is placed in the paper listing the property location, the bidder's information and the bid amount. According to Patton, anyone can make a counter-offer to the county increasing the bid by a minimum of 10 percent within a 10-day period.
"When someone makes a bid on the property, you look at the value on the property and if it looks good this committee has the option of accepting it or rejecting it," said Patton.
Moore referred back to an issue that came up last fall with a property in Trimble where a resident commented that they may have been interested in purchasing a property the county owned if they had known about it. Patton said she was aware of that particular issue but that individual's counter-bid came on the 12th day after it had been advertised, two days past the deadline.
After further discussion, the property bids were approved without opposition by Mallard and a second by Hill.