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Budget Committee to recommend Christmas bonuses for county employees

John Thompson • Oct 8, 2018 at 10:42 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Ross Garland was named chairman of the Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission during the newly reorganized committee’s first meeting Monday night. Isaiah Grindstaff was elected vice chairman. Patty Woodby was elected secretary. All three were unanimously elected by acclamation.

Once reorganized, the committee started work on several matters of new business, including a Christmas bonus for county employees and a request from Sheriff Dexter Lunceford to use funds reimbursed to the county by the federal government for housing and boarding of federal prisoners at the Carter County Jail.

The Christmas bonus would cover county employees who do not work in the school system. The School Board has already voted to provide Christmas bonuses for school paraprofessionals.

The committee voted to recommend the bonus to the full County Commission at its meeting next Monday. The recommendation is a bonus of $250 for full-time employees and $150 for part-time employees.

The vote total on the recommendation was rather unusual. Since three members of the committee are county employees who would be affected by the bonus, County Attorney Josh Hardin advised they should abstain. Since those abstentions do not count against the total required to win a majority, the remaining five members voted 4-1 to approve. In most cases, it takes five yes votes from the eight-member committee for a motion to pass.

The only abstaining vote was from Ronnie Trivett, who pointed out the employees had already received a 1 percent pay increase.

The sheriff’s request was for clarification on the federal prisoner reimbursements. The matter had already been approved by the County Commission, but the motion had several restrictions that barred the money from being spent on sheriff’s department needs.

The committee voted to recommend those restrictions be lifted. The matter involves only federal funds used to reimburse the sheriff’s department, and local tax funds are not included.

The committee also agreed with a request by Landfill Manager Benny Lyons to apply for a state grant that would provide $100,000 to upgrade the Roan Mountain Convenience Station. That grant would require a local match of $20,000.

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