Monday, April 18, 2011

Odds and ends from the meeting

I’ll have a story tomorrow in tomorrow’s paper about what the commissioners did regarding the fee office tug-of-war.

In the meantime, here’s a few things that won’t make it because of space.

Early on in the meeting, the administration rolled out some organization – the PFM Group, I believe – to talk about the county’s “benchmarking and debt analysis.”

Apparently, they were asked to provide “an independent assessment of debt profile, ways to save money and looking for specific risks in the financial profile.”

Uh, OK.

Despite having roughly $620 million in debt, we’re in pretty good shape, group members said.

Like I said: Uh, OK.

I’m actually still scratching my head on this one. I’d think the administration would rustle up someone who would talk about how bad off the county is. Because you know, the debt scares the hell out of county Mayor Tim Burchett and his right-hand-man Dean Rice.

But, they didn’t.

Of course, this could be one of those moves where officials wanted to brag about how all that refinancing they did back in September makes them look good. Former county Mayor Mike Ragsdale refinanced a bunch of debt, too, during his first year. (Course he also racked up a bunch.)

Still, with this news maybe they should have given Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones a couple extra cars if the future is so bright.

Anyhoo, some other notes:

Carter Elementary School: The evaluation committee that will determine which of the six bidders who wants a shot at trying to convince the county why they should get paid $13 million to $15 million instead of the PBA to build a new school on the county’s eastern side will meet Wednesday and Thursday. By early next week, officials will make the choice public and it will go before the IDB on May 10. Apparently, the bidding/request for proposals process so has cost the county about $4,600. I’ll try to figure out what it was spent on. I imagine it was advertising the bids.

NRRT: The county is going to auction off some 157 acres of Solway Greenwaste property. Remember, the county is cutting ties with Natural Resources Recovery of Tennessee on July 31. I wrote about that some time back. I’m not sure whether the land is any good. Commissioner Mike Brown said: “I wouldn’t consider it a building lot. I’m not sure I’d even want to raise my cattle on it.”

Fee Offices: During the meeting to discuss the fee office mess, local attorney John King (who isn’t cheap) spoke on behalf of Register of Deeds Sherry Witt. A lot – and I mean a lot – of folks were immediately asking me whether the county would pick up the tab. Apparently, they were asking Commission Chairman Mike Hammond the same thing. Because, he asked King. (So did I, but it was after the meeting). King said “I have a fee arrangement with her.” He also said county money won’t be used. Witt told me after the meeting that it will come from her own pocket. She also said she won’t use campaign money. I hope that puts that one to rest. But, there’s one other thing. I wasn’t in the back of the room when this happened (I usually sit up front), but Brian Hornback caught an interesting tidbit involving some of the fee officers who oppose the commission’s plan to take control of their budgets. (You can read about it right here.)

Senate seat: The county commission will begin taking applications soon to fill Jamie Woodson’s state senate seat. It should be up on the Deathstar’s web site maybe as early as tomorrow, which is good considering it hasn't updated its spin in over two weeks. I’ll post more when I know.

Scott Frith: I’ve asked the interim election administration twice to comment on some things I’m working on. He’s given somehow managed to use the word “focus” about a dozen times. When I called him out on it, he said that tomorrow the words of the day will be: “concentrate, pinpoint, direct, knuckle-down, fixate, hone-in . . . “

Good deal. No matter what you say about the guy, at least he returns calls. There are a number of folks in this area – elected or appointed – who don’t. Not a lot of transparency when you can’t return a call. Not a lot of guts, either.



Brian Paone said...

I'd suggest covering a meeting from the back of the room, but it's much more fun to do when no one knows you're doing it - and I bet you stick out like a sore thumb now at the CCB.

Mike Donila said...

I sometimes hang out back there. It's not unlike being Waldorf and Statler I would imagine.

Brian Paone said...

Well, it WAS. Then the EC got rid of the best commentator in the room.

...are you thinking what I'm thinking?