The Blount County Commission on ThursdayFebruary 17, individually approved Mayor Ed Mitchell’s four reappointments to the budget committee, after the group failed to get enough votes last month.
After lengthy discussions, the board approved a new one-year term for Sharon Hannum, 14-5, with commissioners Brad Bowers, Dodd Crowe, Jeff Jopling, Joe McCulley and Steve Mikels voting no. The one-year reappointments of commissioners Jared Anderson, Mike Caylor and Tom Stinnett passed, 11-7, each abstaining on their own nomination. Commissioners Nick Bright and Tom Hood joined the other five in no votes on these.
Commissioners Dawn Reagan and Brian Robbins were absent Feb. 17 but voted against the group nominations last month. Commissioner James Hammontree did not vote last month but in favor of individual candidates this month.
A vote of 11 was required to adopt the nominations, and in January, with four members absent, the vote was 9 to 7 in favor of them as a group.
Crowe has spoken in recent months at committee meetings to ask committee appointees to better reflect that only 29% of county residents live in its towns.
Last week, he left his committee seat to address his fellow commissioners at the start of the meeting from the microphone set up for public comment.
Although no commissioner criticized individual members of the budget committee, Crowe said that when Blount County schools are funded below the state average but the county lends money to municipalities , “this seems to be biased”.
“For those of you wondering if there’s a difference between people living in this county and in cities, you obviously haven’t spent a lot of time in county schools,” said Crowe, a teacher. retired from Blount County Schools.
He said the only time he remembered the full committee passing something that the budget committee didn’t approve was when it put a larger portion of the property taxes into Fund 177, which only funds capital projects for Blount County schools without giving Maryville School and Alcoa first. districts each a share.
Crowe also noted that last year, the budget committee recommended that funding for Eagleton Middle School renovations come from shared dollars instead of the 177 fund, which BCS planned to use, a change that the committee confirmed.
During the discussion of the candidates, Bowers said, “We voted a month ago to ask the mayor to change his budget committee,” and the mayor didn’t change a single name. “I just think that’s the main thing that we asked for a change and we didn’t get it,” Bowers said when explaining why he would vote no.
Commissioner Mike Akard said the full 21-member commission has the final vote on spending and represents the entire county.
The commission, with a single vote of 18-1, approved Mitchell’s nominations for the Public Building Authority: Don Mull for a one-year term to fill the vacancy created by Bo Henry’s death, and renewal of the term of Sylvia S. Davis for a term of five years. McCulley voted no.
In other actions, the board approved:
• Spending nearly $165,000 in federal funding under the US Bailout Act of 2021 to digitize and index documents in the Deeds Registry Office dating back to the early 1800s. Hammontree was the only to vote against.
• Allow Blount County Schools to spend $795,000 of federal funding in its cafeteria fund to replace food service equipment at multiple schools, with one unanimous vote.
• Build an industrial access highway to serve a larger manufacturing plant that Axis Fabrication is planning to build in Rockford. Axis currently has an approximately 45,000 square foot facility in the Stock Creek Industrial Park and plans to build a new one nearby. The company, which does machining and fabrication for companies such as DENSO and BSH LaFollette, has about 60 employees and hopes to reach 100 within five years, according to chairman James Lewis. Commissioners Tom Hood and Mikels were the only no.