A “bonus” one-time payment of $1,500 to employees of the county government took a step closer to reality Tuesday evening when unanimously approved during the Budget Committee’s meeting.
The one-time, non-recurring bonus payment was among several budget amendments gaining the committee’s approval in preparation for the monthly meeting of the Cumberland County Commission. Next meeting, open to the public, is set for May 19.
“County employees didn’t get a raise last year,” Budget Committee Chairman Terry Lowe told the panel. “This is a little something to help employees out.”
Not all those considered county employees will receive the bonus.
County Mayor Allen Foster told those at the meeting the one-time bonus will not include checks to school board employees. It was also noted that elected officials will not be receiving a bonus.
Funding for the bonuses will come from the undesignated fund balances of the general fund, sanitation fund and highway fund. Total cost will be approximately $490,506.
The approved resolution reads, in part, “The County Commission and elected officials would like to recognize county employees for their additional workloads during the COVID-19 pandemic and extend their appreciation to our employee’s continued dedication to public service in a similar fashion as the state legislature did for educators with a one-time non-recurring bonus payment in FY 20-21.”
Those qualifying must be full-time employees who are not newly hires still working their probationary periods as of May 1.
The measure was approved unanimously with Commissioners David Gibson and Chad Norris — both employees of the sheriff’s office who, as commissioners, serve on the budget committee — abstaining from the vote citing potential conflict.
In other resolutions presented to the committee, the following took place. All budget amendments will approved will be forwarded to the full commission for approval.
•County Finance Director Nathan Brock announced settlement of an insurance claim in the amount of $101,676 for an ambulance unit that caught fire during a return from an out-of-county transfer and APPROVED adding to that amount $82,321 to be used to purchase a new ambulance.
Brock told the committee that the action comes with the approval of the EMS director who, along with the county mayor and other officials, deemed the settlement was a “fair resolution.”
•APPROVED a request from the Trustee’s Office to transfer $261 from the contracted services line item account to the travel and other charges account. No new funds were involved.
•APPROVED a request from the Art Circle Public Library transferring $300 from the in-service training account to the communications account for telephone and internet costs. No new funds were involved.
•APPROVED a request from the county archives transferring $200 from the in-service training account to the communications account to help pay increases in telephone and internet costs above budgeted monies. No new funds were involved.
•APPROVED a request from the election commission to transfer $3,500 from the travel account to purchase office equipment. No new monies were involved.
•APPROVED a request from the ambulance service transferring $1,500 from the other charges account to the communications account. No new funds were involved.
•APPROVED a request from the County Clerk’s office transferring $1,150 from other supplies account to the data process equipment account for the purchase of a new printer. This request was anticipated and involved no new funds.
•APPROVED receipt of donations from an individual and from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas in the amount of $4,500 and transferred the money into a uniform account to purchase new uniforms. The individual donation from a Fairfield Glade resident, was accompanied with a complimentary letter about service received from EMS.
•APPROVED a last-second request from the County Road Department asking for a $50,000 transfer from the general fund to the department’s budget for the purchase of renovating the old Alpha Equipment property on Northside Dr. for the road department’s new location. Those funds will be used to purchase supplies and equipment to be used for everything from adapting power supply for department use to weatherization of office space and work areas.
The Budget Committee also reviewed the following:
•Property tax collections for fiscal year 20-21 are now at 99.49%, which includes built-in monies for delinquencies. This compares to 99.1% for the past fiscal year.
•Hotel/motel tax collections are now at 84.5% of the budgeted funds, compared to 68.8% last fiscal year, reflecting a slow return to normalcy following the pandemic.
•Reviewed ambulance collections to be at 92.46% of the anticipated budgeted amount in March.
•Reviewed prison boarding account which is at 50.7% of the budgeted amount, due primarily to the shutdown of some phases of the court system during the pandemic.
•Reviewed local option sales tax collections which hit $828,199 in April. This is an increase of nearly $100,000 over last year’s April figures and demonstrates a continual recovery from the pandemic.