On Monday night, the County Commission took a big step forward in bringing to fruition the plans of Mayor Brett Lashlee to initiate public improvements to the county via his “BUILD” project. In a vote of 13-2 (three were absent), the body approved Lashlee’s resolution to issue general obligation bonds up to $6 million to fund expansion.
Lashlee has proposed the acquisition of land, materials, and services needed for the construction, improvement, repair, renovation, maintenance, and equipping of a number of public buildings and facilities. These buildings are to include a new emergency management center, a farmer’s market/agricultural civic center complex that will house the UT/TSU Extension offices, a courthouse annex to be located in the old Benton County Electric building adjacent to the court square, and modifications to the existing county courthouse and jail.
Under Lashlee’s leadership, the county has been able to acquire at low cost land to develop and existing structures to renovate to meet the county’s need for expansion. These projects can be funded by community development block grants (CDBG) and multiple other grants for which the county can apply once the projects start, which will reimburse the county for a substantial portion of the costs involved. In fact, a CDBG already has been received to fund the new EMS center. The county also is pursuing a partnership with the City of Camden related to the farmers market/civic center complex.
“In looking to the future, we have to take this step for our county,” Lashlee said. “We want to foster growth in our community, and by doing so, we are investing in a future that will serve the needs of everyone in the county for years to come.”
Next week, details of the $6 million bond resolution will be published in the legal pages of The Camden Chronicle. The public will have 20 days from the date of publication to protest the issue of bonds. To stop the issue, any petition filed with the County Clerk must be signed by at least 10 percent of registered voters in the county.
In other business, Roseanne Ward was elected to serve as Chairman Pro Tem again this year, besting co-nominee Darrell Hicks with 11 votes. Several committee and board appointments were approved, including appointing Janet Higdon to the Insurance Committee, Doug Vickers to the Law Enforcement Committee, Ward Plant to the Benton County Board of Public Utilities, and Angela Jones to the Benton County Animal Shelter Board.
The report of public utilities and notary candidates were approved. Other approved resolutions included:
- Budgeted $7,439.90 to the sheriff, $1,000 to the animal shelter, $775 to the county medical examiner, and $32,000 to Fund 171 – General Capital Projects.
- Budgeted $91,893 from the Benton County property sale within multiple county budgets.
- Appropriated $33,829.09, the remainder of the Pam Chmelik bequest left to the animal shelter, and re-budgeted to the animal shelter.
- Appropriated $1,988.22, the remainder of the Health Dept. Tobacco grant, and re-budgeted to the Health Dept.
- Appropriated $13,814.51 of Victim Assistance Assessment fees and remitted to WRAP.
- Appropriated $4,795.12 of Drug Court fees and remitted to the state.
- Appropriated $2,018 from the Courtroom Security Reserve to install two new locks on the courtroom doors.
- Appropriated $1,725 from the Unassigned Fund Balance within the County General Fund (UFB/CGF) to cover a salary increase due to a Benton County Health Dept. state employee. These funds will be reimbursed by the state.
- Appropriated $51,390.25 from the UFB/CGF to cover 27 pay periods in 2020 instead of 26 due to leap year.
For anyone unable to attend a County Commission meeting, an audio recording of any meeting can be obtained at no charge from the County Clerk’s Office via transfer to a USB storage device. Also, county commission meetings may be viewed live on the Benton County Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BentonCoTN.