The 2008-2009 Hamblen County budget passed yesterday by a vote of 10-1. Ricky Bruce cast the lone dissenting vote. Commissioners Paul Lebel, Frank Parker, and Nancy Phillips were absent.
Prior to the budget vote, there were a few surprises. (1) A commissioner resigned. (2) A last-minute insurance decision was made. (3) Trustee Bill Brittain reported on a special meeting of the county's executive committee that was held just prior to the full commission meeting to discuss the county's debt.
(1) Commissioner Frank Parker, who has not attended the last several committee or commission meetings, submitted a letter of resignation. In his letter to Chair Stancil Ford and County Commission, Parker said:
Please accept this as proper notice of my resignation from the County Commission (District 7) effective June 30, 2008.
For some time now, I have found in necessary to abstain from voting on the Commission due to my position as a county employee. This has made me uncomfortable. I want to concentrate on my work at Cherokee Park and feel that this decision will help me focus my efforts there.
I just want you and the other commissioners to know that I have enjoyed serving on the county commission. I just feel that this is the right decision at this time.
(2) The E-911 and Solid Waste employees, represented by EMA Director Eric Carpenter, asked to be allowed to piggy-back on the county's insurance. After intense questioning by Commissioner Joe Swann over the possible negative impact that these groups could have on county employee's insurance premiums at renewal time, the Commission voted to put them on the county's insurance for 6 months and "study" the issue.
These groups were previously piggy-backing on the city's insurance but, as Carpenter pointed out, they were left out when the City decided in May that it could save money by going to a self-insured plan that only included city employees.
(3) Trustee Bill Brittain said that the Executive Committee met with Joe Ayres of Cumberland Securities just prior to the Commission meeting to discuss problems with the county's debt. Brittain mentioned the subprime market and its negative impact on the county's debt--noting several county bond issues were involved.
The Commission approved appointment of County Mayor David Purkey, Finance Director Nicole Buchanan, and Trustee Bill Brittain to research this issue and report back.