For the second consecutive month, the County Commission opened its meeting with a moment of silence. Hugh Kitts, an employee of the Union County Highway Department, was remembered for his service. For the second consecutive month, the election of Chairman was on the agenda. When Chairman England called for nominees for Chairman, Commissioner Jody Smith nominated Commissioner Gary England. Commissioner England respectfully declined and stated that he felt accepting the nomination would continue to divide the Commission. Chairman England again called for nominees.
Union County Commission
Written by Marilyn Toppins and recorded by Chantay Collins.
From the opening remarks to the vacant chair adorned with a white wreath, it was evident that the recent passing of Commissioner J. M. Bailey weighed on the minds of everyone who attended the Monday night Union County Commission Meeting. After a moment of silence, Chairman Gary England paid tribute to Commissioner Bailey by saying that he had lost a colleague and a friend. “No matter what you may have thought of his views, J. M. never voted on an issue that he did not understand. You could always count on him to ask a question, and I'll miss him,“ stated Mr. England.
Gratitude and appreciation draped the last Union County Commission Meeting of the commission elected in 2014. The new Commission will have eight new members. Many commissioners expressed their gratitude for the honor of serving the citizens of Union County. Others mentioned their appreciation for the chance to work with people from all over the county to do some positive things. The citizens erupted in applause for the return of Commissioner J. M. Bailey who has been struggling with a serious illness.
A common theme for candidates running for office in Union County this year is unity. Several candidates have incorporated unity in their campaign slogans. Martin Shafer’s campaign slogan is “The Unity Community”. Charlie Hamilton’s campaign slogan is “The Voice of Unity”. During early voting, the Reverend Gary Beeler led all the candidates in a unity of prayer each morning. Viewed more than 7,000 times over the past 10 days on Facebook, this prayer circle has become somewhat of a social media phenomenon.
Having access to high speed broadband service is quickly becoming the most important differentiating infrastructure of our time. A 2016 report from then Commissioner for Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd, found businesses in Tennessee said broadband enabled 43 percent of all net new jobs and 66 percent of revenues. In addition, 34 percent of businesses classified broadband as essential to selecting their location, and 56 percent noted that it was essential to remain in their location.
Historians will record 2018 as the second year in a row of a balanced budget for Union County; likely the most significant legislative accomplishment of the County Commission in a generation. Union County’s budget is one of the most important pieces of public policy the Commission enacts every year.
Passing a budget and setting a tax rate in June has now become best practice in Union County. For two consecutive years, Ann Dyer, County Finance Director, and County Mayor Mike Williams have diligently worked with County Commission led by Chairman Gary England and the Budget and Finance Committee to complete the budget process before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. Their combined efforts have solidified the budget process into a transparent, accountable, and responsible fiscal practice that has set Union County on a course toward improvement and maybe even prosperity.
Union County property owners will see their taxes drop in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, even though Union County Commission approved a budget June 12, with expenditures topping last year’s budget by more than $1.7 million. Union County Mayor Mike Williams said the tax decrease is probably attributable to the recent property reappraisal. The property tax rate will drop from $2.17 to $2.1399 for every $100 of taxable property.