White County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing June 21 so members of the community could present any questions or concerns they had about the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget before the full court voted to approve it during their regular called meeting later in the evening.
During the public hearing, several residents of White County presented their concerns to the governing board.
“It’s been told that this budget is all or none. I don’t think we should be voting on all or none,” Connie Davis strongly stated. “There should be things taken out of here, because I was born and raised here, and we need to be slowing down, or we are going to price our seniors out of their homes.”
Davis listed line items she felt were unnecessary in the 2021-2022 fiscal year’s budget, including $80,000 appropriated for the implementation of a Health and Safety Resolution and $10,000 appropriated to WCTE from the county’s tourism funds.
“No! We don’t need to be promoted. If you moved here from somewhere else, you need to leave your ways somewhere else, not here,” Davis vehemently expressed her displeasure at the items in the budget. “If you don’t like the way White County is run, you need to move. We want our little town we’ve got now where we can afford to do our own thing.”
She went on to state she was opposed to other items on the list as well, including part-time positions and emergency services, asking why an emergency management agency director was needed as there was already $200,000 appropriated for 911 services.
“There’s also a part-time executive person that’s right at $24,000. Do we not have people that runs up and down the road right now that’s getting paid that aren’t doing anything?” she asked. “Wait a minute – I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got. The rest of the people in our community does not have this kind of money to keep doing what you’re doing right here.
Davis then went on to question money being set aside by the Parks and Recreation Department to fund a new disc golf course, stating ‘they should seek private sponsorship from area businesses rather than use the funds from the department.
“We want to keep our small town. If you want to do anything for this town, get us some jobs in here. Get some people going back to work,” she told the commissioners. “We don’t need all these houses that these rich people coming and taking all our farmlands. It’s coming guys, I’m telling you it’s coming. Look at Nashville – the seniors has no place to live. Wait ‘til the homeless comes when they’re standing on the street corner. They’ve run them out of Nashville, and they’ll be here next. Cookeville’s got ‘em now.”
In agreement with some of Davis’s statements, Tanya Rust, another community member, spoke against the Health and Safety Regulations.
“The Codes Compliance office was not in operation last year, yet $80,000 was budgeted. Now this year it is budgeted, and we still do not have an operational department,” she said. “This is the second year, and I think we should have that removed, and the money could be spent in other parts of our department and that way taxes won’t be raised later on.”
Rust also asked why there wasn’t a worksheet attached to the budget that reflected where the money in the Parks and Recreation Department was coming from and where it was being used, stating that she understood there was a potential new golf course, as well as some grant money, that were being represented in the numbers on the budget, but she couldn’t find that reflected anywhere in the documents.
“I have a concern as why some departments have worksheets and some do not,” she stated, before moving on to question the efficiency of the county’s employees and asked if some of them could possibly have their hours reduced in order to save the county money. “I also did some research on what is considered a full-time employee. 30 hours is a full-time employee. Our assistants in these departments are being paid by the hour. Are they using all of the hours?”
Davis took advantage of some of the remaining time to approach the county’s commissioners one more time.
“I’m back to the podium again. I’ve been fighting this since day one,” Davis said. “There is a lady moved in here from Florida. She’s the one who got this health and safety thing started. She moved in here from Florida and moved next to a chicken factory. It’s also a drug house, but you know what? She moved here – don’t bring your ways here when you move here. Take your ways back to Florida. She needs a letter sent to her; right now’s a good time for her to put her house on the market and move back to Florida. She may get the letter before the week’s out.”
After a couple of residents expressed their disapproval for any type of tax increases, Sharon Langford, a representative of The Friends of White County Animals, asked the commissioners to reconsider her request for $10,000 to help with the control of the county’s cat population. Commissioner Dakota White spoke to both the audience and his fellow commissioners.
“[With] the budget that’s been presented, the property tax is the exact same as last year: 2.05 per 100. That’s a positive in my book. What we paid last year is what we will pay this year,” White said. “I know that we all have our own personal opinions, but the amount of work that’s went into this on everybody’s behalf doesn’t go unseen or unknown to keep it at 2.05 per hundred and that does need to be acknowledged even if we don’t agree with everything that’s in the budget, it’s a miracle in itself that we’re able to keep it at 2.05 per hundred with the work that it takes from everyone in this room. I want to say thank you to everybody.”
Stanley Neal, chairman of the commission, kept the floor open for the entirety of the 30 minutes that had been set aside for the public hearing, even though the community only chose to speak for approximately 15 minutes of that time.
At the conclusion of the half hour, the regular called meeting of the White County Board of Commissioners was called to order. All commissioners present were in agreement on passing each section of the proposed budget amendments as well as two additional resolutions (32-06-2021 – Establish Redistricting Committee and 33-06-2021 – Amendment to QCHC Contract for Inmate Healthcare Services) and approved all notary applications.
Cain Rogers, Robert McCormick, Stanley Neal, Kyle Goff, TK Austin, Dakota White, Roger Mason, Lee Broyles, Lonnie Crouch, and Terry Alley were the commissioners in attendance, while Dillard Quick, Andy Haston, Lanny Selby, and Dale Bennett were absent.