County steering committees discuss refugee resettlement

Posted By | February 6, 2020 12:52 pm

By Ron Moses

Committee members pass Second Amendment proposal

County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson presented Steering Committee B of the White County Board of Commissioners, on Feb. 2, an adjusted resolution about the Refugee Resettlement in the county.

The original resolution was presented to commissioners by City of Sparta Alderman Jerry Lowery, on Jan. 27, and concerned the ability of White County to opt out of any refugee resettlement to the area. Robinson’s refurbished version of the resolution restates the same concerns, but Robinson told the committee he wasn’t sure now was a good time to pass it.

“My opinion is we need to back off a month or two on this,” said Robinson. “It is held up in Maryland in federal court. Basically, any action that is done right now is not going to happen because there is an injunction.”

Robinson said he has faith the General Assembly will handle the situation.

“60 to 70 percent of our revenue comes in from state and federal government,” said Robinson. “I don’t know that we want to openly and publicly slap the state when most of our funding comes from there.”

Robinson said if it comes down to it, he is willing to recommend passing the resolution.

“If we need to, we need to,” said Robinson. “We do not need to at this point. There is nothing they can do with the courts holding them up. I’ll monitor it, and if I see that they are coming or trying to do something, I’ll let you know.”

According to officials, the county would have to opt in to allow any refugees. On Sept. 26, President Donald Trump issued an executive order enhancing state and local involvement in refugee resettlement.

“The presidential decree that President Trump wrote mentioned 18 times state, local and localities,” said Robinson. “To me it is obvious that local government has to OK this before this would happen.”

According to the resolution, “ … funding notice permits federally contracted refugee resettlement agencies to resettle different groups of refugees anywhere from 50 to 100 miles away from the resettlement agency offices in consenting counties such that non-consenting counties, cities and towns can be forced to participate in the initial resettlement of refugees … White County does not want to be forced into participating in the federal refugee resettlement program due to either the governor’s consent and/or being within the permissible placement radius of a resettlement agency office.”

Nashville and Knoxville opted in to the refugee resettlement program, and both fall within the 100 miles specified in the resolution.

Committee B also quickly approved a resolution that would allow White County to become a Second Amendment sanctuary county. The resolution will next face the full county commission.

In other news:

  • The newly formed parks and recreation subcommittee met for the first time and established its officers and rules. Jayson McDonald was voted chairman, Jason Stephenson was voted vice chairman, and Roger Mason was voted secretary.
  • Steering Committee A of the White County Board of Commission discussed the roads list, the July 4th Celebration and the sales tax referendum, which will be on the ballot during the presidential election this fall.

Solid Waste Committee:

For the past three or four month the county has been placing cardboard in the landfill. During the Solid Waste Committee meeting, on Feb. 2, the committee announced that cardboard will now be transported to Cumberland County for disposal.

Budget Committee 

The Budget Committee adjusted the general fund to allow for overtime for the sheriff’s department. The board approved the    reallocation of funds to cover staffing shortages in the sheriff’s department. Also approved was the appropriation of funds required to comply with the resolution approved by the county commission that will close Sidney Lane. $435,000 will be appropriated.

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