Mullins: ‘Cut committee pay’

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It appears that Claiborne County will continue paying its commissioners to sit on the various committees, despite a plea from 4th district commission hopeful Zach Mullins, who requested that a resolution be drawn to cut the salaries.

Mullins spent a bit of time, during the Claiborne Commission meeting last week, detailing the costs to the county. However, state law mandates that every member of every county committee be paid one-half the regular salary that person receives for sitting on the county commission – in this case, $175 per person, per committee meeting per month.

Mullins did the math, coming up with a grand total of $18,900 in annual pay distributed to just the nine-member budget committee, if it meets the allotted 12 times during the fiscal year.

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“Everyone I’ve talked to say they don’t see why, and I don’t see why, $350 (per month in regular commissioner pay) wouldn’t be enough to do everything within his district, to uphold his office.

“I think and I believe that each commissioner here – their best interest is for the Claiborne County taxpayers and what’s best for Claiborne County,” said Mullins.

He pointed to the current property tax rate of $2.57 per $100 of assessed value and to the costs to each county resident of the total $50 in wheel taxes collected each year.

“These add up to more than any county that adjoins us. This may be one thing that could be running (off) business and (possible future residents),” said Mullins.

Commission chair David Mundy addressed the issue, saying the state requires that the committee members receive half the pay they receive as a commissioner.

Mullins then asked whether the county is required to have every committee that is currently sitting.

Mundy and commissioner Juanita Honeycutt agreed that each county committee must be in place, per state law.

Commissioner Bill Keck, who sits on the budget committee, further clarified the issue.

“We put 12 in there (into the annual budget proposal). We normally don’t go 12 meetings. We might do six. We might do seven. We always put 12 in there in case we have real budget trials,” said Keck.

Commissioner Dennis Estes, who also sits on the budget committee, seemed to take issue with Mullins’ referral to the two wheel taxes.

“Did I hear you right, that you would be for taking the wheel tax away from the road department,” said Estes.

“I did not say the road department, Mr. Estes. I said road taxes, period,” said Mullins.

Estes said that, if the county were to drop the wheel tax, the road department would also lose funding from the state.

“The state matches, dollar for dollar,” said Estes.

Mullins reiterated that Claiborne has higher taxes than any surrounding counties.

“Claiborne County is a larger county – I understand that. A larger county should have more tax dollars coming in,” said Mullins.

Estes reminded those present that the Claiborne Road Department has 830 miles of roadways to maintain, while surrounding counties have substantially less.

The two men spent a couple of minutes in a verbal scuffle of sorts, before Mullins took his seat and the meeting resumed.

The next regular monthly meeting of the Claiborne Commission is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 18, inside the large courtroom of the Claiborne County Courthouse. The public is encouraged to attend these informative meetings.