General Election 2010: ‘Bank’ Job Draws Most Interest
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Who do you want handling Cannon County’s money?

If you are a voter in Cannon County, that is one of the decisions you will be making when you go to the polls August 5.

One of the positions on the ballot is that of Cannon County Trustee. There are eight candidates for the job, the most of any race this election season.

It is the only race for a seat in county government for which the incumbent is not running. Current Trustee James Maxwell decided to not seek a third term.

The position pays $57,751 annually.

The eight candidates running, listed alphabetically, are:

• Dottie Duggin, a lifelong resident of Cannon County. She is currently employed by Floyd Wilson, State Farm Agent and has worked there for the past 14 years as Office Manger. Prior to that she worked for McCrary-Harrell Insurance for Cap McCrary and Charlie Harrell where she became a licensed Tennessee Insurance Agent and began her insurance career.

• Grant Holt of Woodbury. Holt is a 1988 graduate of Cannon County High School and attended MTSU. He is currently employed with the Town of Woodbury in the Public Works Department.

• Norma Knox, a Cannon County native who lives in the First District in the Readyville community. After graduating from Cannon County High School and completing Middle Tennessee Barber College, she has been an entrepreneur for the past twenty years. She has serving on several advisory committees for the Board of Education and recently visited the State Capitol to file a charter with the Secretary of State for West Side PTO, for whom she has served as treasurer since 2004.

• Brenda Mullinax, a lifelong resident of Cannon County, who currently works as an assistant in the office. Prior to being employed in the Trustee’s Office, she worked for the Chromalox Company in Murfreesboro as a payroll officer, then moving into Accounts Payable, Data Processing, and Inventory Stock Control. She then worked in the accounting departments of Cumberland Swan (now Vijon) and United Service Equipment Company.

• Michael D. Nichols, who lives in the Bradyville community and was raised in the Doolittle community. I am married to Kim (Jernigan) Nichols. He graduated from Cannon County High School and Murfreesboro Vocational Technology Center with a degree in Industrial Maintenance, which also included computer training.

• Wayne Prater, who lives in the Short Mountain community. Prater attended college at UT and MTSU and has worked as a farmer and for a dairy operation.

• Brenda Witty, who is originally from Auburntown. Witty has over 30 years experience in handling business growth. She previously owned Basham Flower & Gift and also B&W Market. She currently works for Natural Organics in Murfreesboro.

o Nolan Travis. After graduating from The University of Memphis in 1983 with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree, he started a business involved in the promotion and sales of hunting and sporting goods. He later turned his career focus to property management and construction as a licensed general contractor. In 2000, he purchased a family farm which he currently operates.

DUTIES

The trustee acts as the general banker for the county, serving three primary functions.

First, the trustee sends out statements for property taxes, one of the county’s most important revenue sources, and then collects these taxes and issues receipts. The trustee appoints the delinquent tax attorney subject to the approval of the county mayor.

Second, the trustee receives and disburses county funds, keeping accurate records for each transaction. It is recommended that all county funds received by the trustee’s office be deposited daily; however, state law requires all funds to be deposited within three days. Revenues are identified by use of a uniform chart of accounts authorized by the comptroller’s office and administered by the county audit division.

Disbursements of county funds are made on official county warrants that are recorded in a warrant register book, or through a checking system if the county has elected to convert from a warrant system. The trustee files monthly and annual financial reports. For performing these duties, the trustee receives commissions, which are generally outlined in T.C.A. § 8-11-110.

A third important function of the county trustee is managing the cash flow of the county and, in some cases, investing idle cash funds. The trustee should work with the county finance committee to ensure that investments are made according to state law and produce the maximum yield of earnings with the highest degree of safety.

Other Matters

Since office management is an important responsibility, trustees should have knowledge of personnel procedures as well as relevant state and federal laws. Also, the trustee should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal and county, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. All county officials should be familiar with the conflict of interest, ethics and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.

Compensation

The minimum compensation of the trustee is set by TC.A. § 8-24-102, and is based upon county population. The county legislative body may set the salary for general officers of the county (which includes the trustee) at an amount greater than the statutory minimum. The minimum salary of the trustee is adjusted each year to reflect changes in state employee compensation.

Deputies and Assistants

The number and salaries of deputies and assistants may be determined by decree of chancery court; or, alternatively, if the trustee is under the budget system and agrees with the budget adopted by the county legislative body, by entering into a letter of agreement with the county mayor; or, if on the fee system the trustee may enter into a letter of agreement with the county mayor. Under both alternatives, the trustee would avoid a salary suit.
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