Carter County returns to electronic meetings as COVID-19 cases curve upward

John Thompson • Jul 6, 2020 at 10:23 PM

ELIZABETHTON — With new authorizations from Gov. Bill Lee, the Carter County Commission is going back to holding remote electronic meetings in an effort to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The county has held several remote meetings from March through June before returning to regular public meetings last month. But as the number of new cases begin to increase again, Lee has adjusted his reopening plans and allowed the counties to return to the remote meetings.

The Landfill and the Education Committee held a remote meeting Monday evening. The meeting was also noteworthy because Tracy McAbee, the new director of schools for Carter County, was introduced to the Education Committee.

One of the most important County Commission meetings of the year will also be held electronically this month. The Carter County Commission will meet Monday, July 20, to establish the new budget for the county government. There will be two meetings on that day, with an electronic public hearing set for 5 p.m. and the Commission meeting set for 6 p.m. The commission will vote on a new budget and set the property tax rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

In order to help preserve social distancing, there is no announced location for the meeting, and many commissioners will attend the meeting by using their computers at their homes or offices.

Citizens will be allowed to speak during the public hearing at 5 p.m, and again during the County Commission during the public hearing portion of that meeting. The electronic program is operated by Zoom and it has a channel by which citizens may address all the people watching the program.

Live public access to the meeting will be available by toll-free telephone call in to Call 1-877-853-5257 and entering Meeting ID 478-766-9850, on the internet by visiting https://zoom.us/j/4787669850 or through the Zoom mobile app by logging into your Zoom app and entering Meeting ID 478-766-9850. Those wishing to speak during the Public Hearing on the budget at 5 p.m. need to sign up at least five days prior to the meeting at the Finance Department located on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse.

The Elizabethton City Council already passed its new budget last month. The council will be holding its July meeting this Thursday and that meeting will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall. City Hall was reopened last Wednesday. All offices in City Hall are now open, with the exception of walk-in utility payments at the finance department. In place of walk-in service, a second drive-through lane has been established to provide service to customers.