Today is Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More of same, Master Plan and level playing field

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It’s business as usual for the Wilson County Board of County Commissioners, even without a new budget.

Realizing that the budget for the coming fiscal year probably would not be approved by the July 1 deadline, the 24 commissioners attending Monday night’s meeting voted unanimously to continue government operations under the current budget.

District 25’s Bernie Ash was absent.

In addition to being good news for those running the county, the continuing resolution also is good news for county residents, since the resolution includes a provision that keeps property taxes at the rate set last year until new tax rates are adopted.

With that major piece of business taken care of, commissioners then set about approving a resolution to issue county district school bonds, not to exceed $15,150,000 for the expansion of Carroll-Oakland Elementary School.

Another resolution approved without discussion, was to issue $865,000 worth of interest-bearing notes to upgrade the county’s emergency services communication equipment.

However, during the new business part of the meeting, it was a resolution sponsored by District 13’s Commissioner Clint Thomas to not approve any pending or new applications to build or upgrade any telecommunications towers that drew a lot of discussion.

The resolution gives the commission time to develop its own Master Plan for handling applications. Commissioners all agreed that none of them are experts in the field of telecommunications, and due to the complex nature of the applications, they need to bring in some independent expertise to help them develop standards and provisions regarding the construction, placement and modification of the cell towers.

The resolution puts a moratorium on approval of applications up to 365 days, during which time the commission can develop the master plan.

Other business for the meeting was somewhat routine, shifting funds in the budgets of the various county departments to cover expenditures and giving the County Mayor permission to sign a contract with the state Department of Transportation to have litter picked up from the county’s highways and road.

The county commission also unanimously approved giving $53,000 to 20 different non-profit, recreational groups in Wilson County. While the approved appropriation was for a total of $65,000, County Attorney Mike Jennings said they were holding $12,000 in case it is needed for emergency situations, such as when ball fields flooded a few years ago.

But one item, pulled from consideration earlier, came back in a different form and drew unanimous agreement and even some smiles from commissioners.

As part of the construction costs of Watertown High School, a certain amount of money was set aside for discretionary costs. But, using the funds for any other project had to be recommended by the Wilson County Board of Education and approved by a majority of the county commissioners.

On May 30, the Board of Education requested that $38,950 be used to do repairs to the Lebanon High School football field. Commissioners thought it was a good idea and voted unanimously to approve the request.

However, the resolution to spend $154,000 to raise the bleachers at Lebanon High School’s football field was pulled from consideration and not brought back before the full commission.

That resolution would have required $85,000 to come from the Capital Projects fund and $69,000 to come from the discretionary funds at Watertown High School.

Amelia Morrison Hipps is a correspondent for The Wilson Post. She may be reached at amhipps@downhomepolitics.com. Jim Hipps contributed to this story.

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budget, Carroll-Oakland Elementary School, Lebanon High football field, Wilson County Commission
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