Double Billing? Courthouse Project Admin Fees Cost Town Nearly 19K

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Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick asked that a budget amendment be considered in order to secure funds to pay administrative fees to the Upper Cumberland Development District for the Downtown Revitalization Project during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Tuesday.

Patrick voiced displeasure that the UCDD is gaining almost $19,000 from the Town of Woodbury for administrative fees for the work it did in assisting obtaining Tennessee Department of Transportation T21 Enhancement Grant. The grant was for $600,000 with the Town of Woodbury and Cannon County contributing $80,000 each.

“After we received the grant and the work started we received the first invoice (from Upper Cumberland Development District) and we paid the amount of $6,300 for those administrative costs,” Patrick said. “We paid that initial amount out of the $80,000 we were paying but I have since been informed that you can not pay administrative costs out of the $80,000. The administrative costs are additional money.”

So the $6,300 that was initially paid to Upper Cumberland Development must be replaced so the Cannon County still receives the $80,000 it is expecting from the Town of Woodbury for its part of the renovation.

Patrick told the Board of Alderman the situation can be solved with a “budget amendment,” but the mayor also voiced his disdain for the overall costs of the administrative fees. The total administrative fees will run the Town of Woodbury $18,900.

“I’m asking for a budget amendment of $13,000 for this year,” Patrick told the Board. “We would put $6,300 back because the county is expecting the city to write them a check for $80,000, which is what our line item was.”

The remaining $7,000 requested in this budget amendment would enable the Town of Woodbury to pay the second of three payments and the final $6,300 would be included in the 2011-12 budget, Patrick said.

Patrick and members of the Board of Mayor and Alderpersons were unanimous in their disdain for the high costs of the administrative fees.

“They charge us an administration fee; they charge the county an administration fee; however, they did not separate administrative duties,” Faye Northcutt-Knox said. “I definitely think we should look into what we can do.”

Patrick said he was not going down without a fight but added the funds needed to be in place.

“I want to negotiate with them and make it clear they have not done enough to warrant that type of money,” Patrick said. “I will make it clear we are reluctant to pay more.”

The Board voted unanimously to look into the budget amendment but also encouraged Patrick to meet with the Upper Cumberland Development District to discuss the high costs of their administrative fee.

• Keeping with the theme of money, the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce requested an additional $3,000 in funding – in addition to the $1,000 set aside in the budget - during Tuesday’s meeting.

Northcutt-Knox encouraged the Board to consider this increase in funds, saying “This Chamber is very important to this community … we need to support this chamber.”

Carolyn Motley, with the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce, outlined reasons for the requests but Patrick and members of the Board wanted to take a wait-and-see approach before voting on the proposed increase.

“I would like to know what (the County Commission) is going to do before we do anything,” Patrick said. “Quoting one of the county commission members, ‘We’ve done our thing, what is the city going to do?’”

The Town of Woodbury gives the Chamber of Commerce $1,000 annually and Patrick said the County Commission gives $50 annually.

“We will continue giving the $1,000 but I want to know what the county is doing,” Patrick said. “I think it needs some funding but I think the county needs to give more than $50.”

Motley said she attended the County Commission’s Budget Committee meeting and requested additional funds for the Chamber of Commerce.

“I went and talked to them and never heard whether I was getting more or less. I haven’t been called back,” Motley said. “It comes down to how much you value it. I took the County Commission the same packet and they said they would take it under advisement. I haven’t heard anything and that’s probably not a good sign.”

Some members of the Board called the $50 donation “an insult,” and others suggested Motley send the money back if that’s all the county could afford.

“I’m real appreciative of anything I can get. I won’t be sending it back,” Motley said. “I think the Chamber is vital to the community but I understand it’s tough. I hate to come back and ask for more because we do appreciate what the Town of Woodbury has done for us, and I know the Chamber Board does too. There are so many more things we can do to promote our city but it takes money. It comes down to that.”

• In other business, Dale Peterson addressed the Board to give a summary of the community fireworks event held July 2. In addition to the great time citizens had, more than 400 pounds of food were collected and donated to the Cannon County Food Bank.

After all the business donations – and there were 46 who contributed – and all bills were paid, the breakdown back to the Town of Woodbury, Auburntown and Cannon County were distributed as follows: Cannon County and the Town of Woodbury each received $1,852.32, while Auburntown received $926.17.

According to Peterson, the Town of Auburntown Mayor and Board asked its portion of the money be turned over to the Town of Woodbury for a similar show next year. Peterson asked the Town of Woodbury to do something similar and all six aldermen and the mayor were in unanimous agreement.

• In other business Tuesday, a public hearing regarding Ordinance No. 431 – an ordinance amending the original budget ordinance for the Town of Woodbury for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, drew no discussion.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted the 2006 Edition of the International Building Code, Residential Code, Fire Code, and Energy Code.

Fire Chief Bill Johnston discussed the Woodbury Fire Department’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, and Woodbury Police Chief Tony Burnett offered thanks for the many cards and calls he received while hospitalized with pneumonia in June.
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