The Campbell County Commission is set next Monday night to approve the 2018-19 budget and tax rate, with few surprises.   The property tax rate in this election year will remain stable at $2.25 on each $100 of value, while the county general fund will be set at $16,498,880, the solid waste fund at $2,343,677, ambulance service at $2,343,677, highway fund at $5,682,433 and general purpose school fund at $43,183,063.

The county will also designate $4,679,248 for the debt service and a combined $ 2,277,342 marked for capital projects.

One new twist will be a resolution to exempt volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members from the county’s $45 wheel tax. The exemption is authorized under a new state law passed in the legislature this past term that exempts volunteer workers from paying motor vehicle registration fees and authorizes counties to also waive local wheel tax fees.

The waiver applies only to unpaid members of volunteer fire departments and rescue squads and will apply only to one vehicle for each person. To qualify for the waiver, members must have served for at least one year.

Mayor E. L. Morton pointed out that the waiver was an effort to reward those people who volunteer their services to help protect the public. It also has the recommendation of Finance Director Jeff Marlow.

Cliff Jennings voiced the only negative comment, protesting that passing this exemption would show bias toward the elderly, since commissioners earlier this year rejected a suggestion from Jennings to exempt all citizens over 65 from paying the wheel tax.

Rusty Orick disagreed, pointing out that the exemption for those over 65 would cost the county several hundred thousand dollars and the revenue would have to be made up by raising other taxes. The waiver for the approximately 150 volunteers will cost only $7,750, Orick pointed out.

During the public remarks session of the workshop on Monday night, nobody came with new complaints, much to the commission’s delight. Keith Goins explained a new program aimed to train teachers and students on emergency treatment for persons suffering injuries resulting in blood loss.

The “Stop the Bleeding” program funded by state and federal dollars will provide free training sessions on how to properly apply tourniquets, pack a wound and treat bleeding injuries. Each school will receive special first aid kits and one-hour training sessions will be available, coordinated by UT Medical Center.

Patricia Simpson reported on the activities of the animal shelter, which handled a high of 488 animals in June. Campbell County’s shelter has one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the state, according to Simpson, and has sent 175 of those animals to rescue, eleven to adoption and five returned to owners.

Tony Simpson from BMT Manufacturing also spoke to the commission. BMT, which this week announced an expansion in both Jacksboro and Jellico adding nearly 150 new jobs, would like to obtain a two-acre tract of land between its Jacksboro facility and the county garage.

The land is needed to expedite the unloading of supply trucks, Simpson explained. Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck said that the Highway Department has no need of the land, which he described as “a rock pile that we have to keep mowed.” Attorney Joe Coker advised that if the commission declares the land as surplus, state law requires that it must be sold at auction. He added that the commission can turn the land over to the Industrial Development Board, which could then transfer the land to BMT as industrial land without going through the public auction process.

Elementary school student Issac Jones also spoke to commissioners about the anti-bullying campaign he has started. He asked for a publicly advertised telephone number and an app that can be dedicated for students experiencing bullying in school.

The youngster also reported on the progress in getting estimates for “Let’s Get Loud About It” T-shirts to draw attention to the bullying problem. Several commissioners offered to donate to the cost of the T-shirts, while Lonnie Weldon later challenged his fellow commissioners, offering to match their pledges up to a total of $1,500. That would meet the initial $3,000 cost for the shirts.

The commissioners also briefly discussed the process for appointing a person to fill the unexpired term of late school board member Mike Orick. His wife Jennifer has expressed a desire to fill out her husband’s term and so far, a couple of other potential candidates have withdrawn their requests to be nominated.

Butch Kohlmeyer announced his intention to again offer a motion at the next meeting to end the policy of paid health insurance coverage for new county commissioners. Present commissioners would be exempted, Kohlmeyer pointed out, allowing anyone currently serving to continue with county-paid insurance. Similar attempts to end the policy have failed to pass on several occasions.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/10/2018-6AM)