Union County Commission
At the regular Union County Commission meeting in July, commissioners voted on a resolution to issue bonds to fund the new middle school.
Scott Gibson from Cumberland Securities and the county financial advisor explained the procedure. The bond resolution is for $26,250,000.
The bonds will be issued in three phases: $10M in 2023, $10M in 2024, and the balance of $6.25M in 2025. The payment is for 20 years with a four percent interest rate.
In the June 26th meeting the Union County County Commission funded all budgets and set the tax rate at 1.8999. The EMS increases, the solid waste contract, the general fund, and the building of a new middle school were all in the tax levy for FY 24. The compromise took at least 8 votes. Votes were taken on proposals that spanned from 1.8990 to 1,9310. The vote was never tied so Mayor Bailey was not able to vote.
Cheryl Walker, budget committee chairperson, explained the actions of the budget committee meetings at the May Union County Commission meeting. The budget committee had taken several votes on several parts of the budget: Development (Planning Commission), County Clerk, Sheriff, Special Patrols, Jail (current facility), Fire Protection, Rescue Squad, Libraries, EMS, Debt Service and General Capital Projects; the budget committee did recommend several cuts to the General Fund 101 Budget, but after several tie votes was bringing no recommendations for the other parts.
At its March regular meeting, Union County Commission voted to return the Parks and Recreation Grant (PGR) that would have funded the Union County Sports Complex.
The PRG would have provided soccer and football fields in Phase 1 and baseball and softball fields in Phase 2 for Union County youth.
Concession stands, lighting and equipment, as well as site development, were included in the $1.2M initial grant that most likely would have ensured the awarding of the phase 2 grant when phase 1 was completed.
By Marilyn Toppins
At the January Union County Commission meeting, Finance Director Melissa Brown told commissioners that Union County had no debt and repeated the statement three times at Union County Mayor Jason Bailey’s request. However, she explained that the Union County School Board still owes for the School Energy Saving Program and the wheel tax will be paying for the construction of Paulette Elementary through possibly 2028.
The Union County Commission faced several agenda items concerning pay issues at its November meeting. The first item to be resolved involved confusion regarding a motion in the minutes of the October 24 meeting to distribute bonus pay to essential workers with funds from the Capital Projects Budget. The commission was unaware of a law that passed in 2016 that reduced the majority vote requirement if a member had a statutory conflict.
Historic Union County went to press before the Union County commission meeting in September. Since the August meeting had no quorum, the business covered two agendas.
County Mayor Jason Bailey was elected chairman and Sidney Jessee Jr. from Luttrell District 2 was elected vice chairman. The mayor appointed new committees and reported that several grants were ready to have contracts signed.
Union County Tennessee Commission, Special Called meeting October 13, 2022. Recorded by Chantay Colllins.
Union County Tennessee County Commission meeting September 26, 2022. Recorded by Chantay Collins.
Only eight of the 16 commissioners attended the Union County Commission meeting on August 22. All in attendance will serve another four years except Commissioner Janet Holloway, who ended her term with this meeting. But the absence of the other commissioners who lost their seats but were still acting commissioners caused the county business to be postponed until September. Nine members present are needed for a quorum to take any action.
The Union County Commission took two meetings and over 20 votes before agreeing on a reduced tax rate of 1.5899. County Mayor Jason Bailey, partly recovered from a serious automobile accident in May, chaired the meeting. He urged and coaxed the commissioners to meet the July 1 deadline to submit the FY23 Budget to the state comptroller.
The state's reevaluation of property stirred concerns over property tax increases by many commissioners at the Union County Commission meeting on May 23. Even though County Mayor Jason Bailey and the finance department proposed a balanced budget, questions arose regarding inflation, salaries, insurance, and taxes.
Commissioner Bill Cox asked if the state had sent a recommended tax rate. Bailey responded that the state would certify a reduction in the tax rate to 1.58 from 2.13 due to the fact that the county cannot receive more revenue from the state reevaluation alone.
Aurora Pulliam and Tina Guinn from the Tennessee Valley Authority presented Union County with a grant check for $30,000 at the Union County Commission meeting on April 25, 2022. The grant will address the erosion at the campground on Beech Island that could negatively impact the environment.
Pulliam, who manages the recreational agreement between TVA and Union County explained that Union County Mayor Justin Bailey had initiated a request for a review by TVA after the marina discovered a concerning erosion problem in the campground area in 2020.
The Union County Commission brought the dream of a new middle school one step closer to reality at its March meeting.
Commissioners approved the Union County Board of Education (BOE) contract with Lewis Group, the architectural firm that will design the school on a motion by Commissioner Jessee and a second by Commissioner Keck.
Hardly a seat was vacant at the February Union County Commission meeting. Several citizens from Sharps Chapel attended. Four representatives from Friends of Sharps Chapel appeared before commission to make public comments regarding the organization and the factory chicken farm.
Jim Johnson related that the next meeting for the group would be March 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sharps Chapel Senior Center and more information would be available on the Sanford Project.
The Union County Commission elected Cheryl Walker to fill the second district vacancy at its January regular meeting. Sidney Jessee Jr. nominated Walker. No one nominated the other qualifying citizen, Lance Grigsby.
Commissioner England asked that nominations close and that Walker be elected by acclimation. Commissioner Jessee, the other second district representative, provided the second. Then County Mayor Jason Bailey administered the oath of office, and Walker took her seat on the Union County Commission.
Union County Commission rejected a proposal developed by the Election Commission and reviewed by the Redistricting Committee.
The proposal would have reduced the 19 percent out of compliance to being in compliance of 10 percent or less variation for district representation.
Mary Johnson addressed the Union County Commission at its September 27 meeting regarding the construction of a pharmaceutical chicken farm by Alpes Sanfer, Inc., in Sharps Chapel.
The company would place eight barns with 9,000 chickens in each barn on one of the oldest farms in Sharps Chapel, according to Johnson. Sanfer will be developing pathogen-free eggs to be used in making vaccines. The facility will employ approximately 30 people at an hourly rate of $13 to $17 but have made no promise to hire Union County residents, according to Johnson.
Growth was the theme of Mayor Jason Bailey in his report to Union County Commission at the regular August meeting.
Union County has grown by more than 500 according to the 2020 US Census. The growth of internet or broadband service will be the focus of the American Rescue Plan money in the amount of $1.9M.
Bailey is partnering with the Ayers Foundation, a non-profit, to work with Clinton Utility Board and LaFollette Utilities Board to provide broadband in Big Ridge and Speedwell with the goal of providing fiber based internet throughout Union County.