Claiborne Commission to Revisit Invoice Payments

Published 2:46 pm Thursday, June 11, 2020

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The Claiborne County Commission will be taking a second look at what has become a bit of a controversial resolution, first up for vote during the May meeting.
The commissioners spent a good deal of time wrangling Resolution 2020-034 before tabling it for further review during the Finance and Budget Committee meetings scheduled for the following evening.
The tabled document called for the transfer of $9,162.80 from the fund balance into a line item described in the resolution as County Buildings – Consultants. The transfer of this money would have corrected a portion of the county budget by showing payment of three invoices from the architectural firm BarberMcMurry.
The firm was hired by county mayor Joe Brooks to do a preliminary renovation plan of the third floor of the Claiborne County Courthouse. The plan would have allowed the county finance officer and county mayor to move their respective departments, freeing up the mayor’s office for the Claiborne Emergency Management Agency.
The move would allow all remote access departments to be housed inside the courthouse building.
The third floor was previously occupied by the Claiborne County Jail. The jail has since been moved to the Claiborne Justice Center. The floor is now used as storage for the courthouse offices.
During the May meeting, a handful of commissioners voiced their concerns about the way in which the three invoices were paid. Some seemed to agree that the particular line item specified in Resolution 034 could not be found in the county budget.
Commissioner Carolyn Brooks questioned the transaction.
“Has this bill already been paid? Without it being approved? Shouldn’t it come before us before it was paid,” she said.
Commissioner James Hatmaker addressed the issue.
“If there’s not any money in a line item…I don’t write a check at the bank if I don’t have sufficient funds to cover it. This should have been brought to the County Commission and put in a line item for (this) substantial amount of money to cover this check.
“This county has always paid its bills. We will continue to pay our bills. But, from this day forward – I would suggest you better not pay it until it’s approved by this commission,” said Hatmaker.
Mayor Brooks said he had consulted county attorney James Estep III about the matter and was assured that he could “spend up to $10,000 on the project, which is what we did.”
Estep, who was in attendance during the May meeting, confirmed the amount.
“Right now, we’re in a budget process to clean up those line items,” said Brooks.
He apologized to the commission, saying he had mistakenly put down the wrong line item. He said he meant to use the one that paid out the funds for the renovations done last fall to the Claiborne Health Department.
The county has looked into what it would take to become Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Brooks said he hired BarberMcMurry as an alternative to the roughly $1 million it would take to comply with ADA standards.
Resolution 034 is expected to be resolved during the June meeting.
The commissioners will also revisit Resolution 2020-042 which, if adopted, will amend Fund 101 to meet state requirements at year end. According to the resolution, most categories have excess monies that can be realigned to balance the needs of the budget.
Under new business, the commission will take a look at Resolution 2020-055 which, if adopted, will appropriate $50,000 for Charter Commission use. Apparently, the original transfer of funds in June of 2018 was never “completed.”
A resolution requesting that a Quitclaim Deed be granted to a homeowner will also be considered during the meeting. The property owner lives along a portion of what was once the pathway of State Highway 33 in the Sandlick community. That section of roadway has since been renamed New Hope Road.
Work was done several years ago to straighten and widen a portion of the Highway in the southern section of the county. When the new Highway was completed, a ramp was created allowing residents access. This left a strip of old highway roadbed that eventually went to grass.
The next regular monthly meeting of the Claiborne Commission will occur on June 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m., inside the large courtroom of the Claiborne Courthouse.

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