White County Board of Commissioners met June 19, 2023, to vote on several resolutions, including appropriations for the new fiscal year.
David Cranford, of District 2, and Roger Mason, of District 6, were the only commissioners absent. With 16 announced resolutions on the agenda, after a prayer and the pledge, the board got right to work.
All the resolutions passed unanimously with 12 ayes and two members absent except for Resolution 38-06-2023, Resolution Fixing the Tax Levy, which T.K. Austin, of District 2, opposed, and Resolution 39-06-2023, Resolution Making Appropriations for the Various Funds, Departments, Institutions, Offices, and Agencies of the County for the upcoming Fiscal Year, which Kyle Goff, of District 7, opposed.
Resolution 39-06-2023 would become the subject of discussion later in the meeting, with at least four commissioners stating that they did not understand the resolution was the actual budget for the new fiscal year. This discussion began after Sheriff Steve Page explained to the board he would not be held accountable when the county jail becomes decertified.
Sheriff Page said White County has become a training ground for neighboring sheriff departments. He explained the county is losing deputies because White County has the lowest pay in the area. He stated the jail would likely be decertified because of the high employee turnover rate. Several commissioners voiced concerns and said they would like to re-vote on the resolution now that they better understood what they were voting on. Chairman Robert McCormick explained the budget had passed and could only be amended through further resolutions. County Executive Denny Robinson further explained that any increase in spending would also require an explanation of how it would be funded since there were no remaining funds in the budget. The discussions faded, and the meeting adjourned.
When asked to comment on Sheriff Page’s warning of an impending jail decertification, Robinson said that according to the numbers provided by Sheriff Page, the county might actually save money if the jail is decertified. He went on to say the county will have to deal with decertification if and when it happens.
The only other complicated business matter was appointing a new White County School Board member for District 7 to fill the seat vacated because of the death of long-time school board member Kenneth Robinson. Three citizens - Joe Hallums, Gary Alspaugh, and Tracy England Fowler - asked the board to consider them for the appointment. All three individuals were nominated, and a roll-call vote was taken. In the first of four votes, Alspaugh only received two votes and was dropped from further voting. Hallums received seven votes in the second vote, with Fowler receiving five. The appointment requires eight votes. So, a third vote was taken, with Fowler now receiving seven to Hallums’ five votes. Originally, a motion was made and seconded to table the appointment until next month. After learning that the process would have to restart from scratch if tabled and an admission from Hallums when questioned that he had plans to run for county executive in the future and would only seek to serve on the school board until 2026, a final vote was taken. Tracy England Fowler was appointed to fill the vacancy by a 10-2 vote.
In other business, the following resolutions were approved:
Both applications for notary were approved: Kenneth Mahan and Jennifer Roberts.
The next meeting of the White County Court Board of Commissioners will be 6 p.m., July 17, 2023.
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