Wilson County commissioners debated Monday night over who should pay for the overtime at the Sheriff's Department caused by activity at the National Junior High Rodeo Finals. The Sheriff's Department and Lebanon Police Department are jointly providing security for the event.
District 8 Commissioner Frank Bush made a motion to amend the request by the Sheriff's Department that $50,000 be transferred to the department budget from the general fund.
Bush's amendment stipulated that the funds be transferred from the Ag Center budget instead. However, District 14 Commissioner Jeff Joines - who also chairs the Ag Center Committee - disagreed.
Joines said he wanted to make another amendment to take the money from Solid Waste or Emergency Management, since they were as responsible as the Ag Center for the Sheriff's Department's overtime.
'Not an Ag Center issue'
Likewise, former sheriff and District 12 Commissioner Terry Ashe described the overtime pay as a community security issue, not an Ag Center one. Bush's amendment failed 21-3, with Commissioners Bobby Franklin (District 3), John Gentry (District 11) and Bush voting in favor of it - and Commissioner Mike Justice (District 15) absent.
At which point the original motion to transfer the $50,000 from the general fund passed 22-2, with Bush and Gentry opposed.
After the meeting, District 6 Commissioner Kenny Reich said he doesn't understand why there was any issue, since the rodeo benefits the entire county by bringing in people from all across the country who spend tourist dollars here.
"It's the best thing that ever happened to this county," Reich said, "even better than the fair."
Rodeo sold out Sunday
The rodeo has 1,100 participants and - as of Monday - there were 950 campers at the fairground for the event, according to Reich, who added that the event sold out on Sunday.
"And it's not just for this event," he said. "People were telling me they had never been to Tennessee before, but they would be back."
Bush also opposed a transfer of $500,000 within the Wilson County Schools budget, amending the proposed appropriation to defer it until the 2016-2017 budget is approved. The funds will be used to repair and improve the Wilson Central High School track and to repair and replace floors in eight sets of the school's restrooms.
Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright told the commission's Education Committee earlier this month that the track is now 14 years old and has problems which developed over time.
WCHS bathrooms 'deplorable'
"There are problems with eight sets of bathrooms which are in deplorable condition," Wright added.
The goal is to do the work before school begins again in August, she said, and the committee voted unanimously to recommend transferring the half-million dollars now.
Bush's amendment to defer the transfer failed, 18-6, but then the original motion to transfer the money now passed 22-2 - with only Bush and Gentry opposed.
County Finance Director Aaron Maynard also had some good news for the commissioners. He said the changes they made to the county insurance plan last fall are working.
"We have spent $760,000 less this year than we spent in the same months last year," Maynard reported. The savings are partly the result of a change that restricts which hospitals are covered by the plan, he explained.
Rezoning on 231 gets nod
A request by David and Brenda Rahrer to rezone an 18,000-square-foot lot at 1952 Murfreesboro Road/US 231 between Smitty's Bar and Grill and Surefire Fireworks - from agricultural (A-1) to highway commercial (C-1) - also was approved by the commission.
Planning Director Tom Brashear said the request had been approved by the Lebanon Planning Commission since it is within the city's planning zone.
Meanwhile, a second request from Fleming Homes to rezone 2.37 acres from A-1 to rural residential (R-1) at 1250 Riverview Road was withdrawn.