Debate turns to financial issues

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Cannon County Commissioners pushed for quicker action on the fiscal issues plaguing local government.

The topic popped up near the end of Saturday's (October 15) quarterly meeting.

Commissioner Jim Bush raised the issue after receiving a call from an election worker who said they had not be paid for recent work.

"We've got to have some answers," he said.

Bush, who serves on the Commission's Budget Committee, offered one suggestion on cutting funds.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm willing for forgo pay and all expenses as a commissioner," Bush said.

Commissioners receive minimal amount, about $4,600 when all their checks for the year are added together.

"It's a small amount, but that's the place we need to start if we are going to do what we need to do to help this county," Bush explained.

"I want action. I want answers," he continued.

Commissioner Mark Barker said the Tennessee Comptroller's Office should be getting some of the blame for the current crisis.

"The comptroller has to take some responsibility ... they could help us, not hurt us," he said.

"They should have helped in June when we were in the budget process," said Commissioner Glenn Steakley.

County Executive Mike Gannon is attempting to set up a meeting early this week in Nashville between Commission members and the comptroller's office.

Gannon was elected commission chairman during the meeting. Brent Bush was selected chairman pro-tem.

In other action, the panel approved the next step in Cannon County's Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Sharon Armstrong, project representative, told the commissioners it was time to apply for funding from FEMA.

"If you have a disaster like a tornado, flooding or forest fires and you have applied with the mitigation plan, funds will be available," Armstrong explained.
The program does not cost Cannon County. The county's funding "match" comes "in kind" meaning the county will expend time and energy. "There are no county dollars," she said.

"If you have a disaster and don't have a mitigation plan, it limits the amount of money the county could receive. It's a really bad idea not to have one," Armstrong said.

The Commission heard a report from Sarah Malone of the UT Extension Office about a "Trash to Treasure" program being planned for Cannon County Schools.

"Cannon County is one of the few counties were we are still allowed to go into the school system," Malone said.

"Trash to Treasure" is a Tennessee Department of Transportation program designed to help fight litter. Students in the third to eighth grade are asked to bring in an item that's typically thrown away and they will transform it into a "treasure."

"It's really got the students excited," Malone said.

The winning "treasure" will be included in a statewide contest and will be on display at Good Ole Days.

Sheriff Darrell Young announced a change in the Sheriff's Department's towing policy.

"I just want the commission's blessing in following the THP towing policy effective immediately, Young said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol runs a tight ship.

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