Dan Howell, assistant to county Mayor D. Gary Davis, reminded Kiwanians to reassess life through a different lens.
“We hear so much of doom and gloom,” Howell said. “It is refreshing when you hear some good things, especially about what is going on in our own community.”
He presented a list of positive aspects of life in Tennessee:
- Tennessee leads the South in manufacturing and job creation.
- CEO Magazine ranks Tennessee in the top five states to do business.
- Tennessee is ranked as the No. 1 state as the best place to retire.
- Tennessee is named in the top three states for quality of roads and transportation.
- Bradley and Hamilton counties are ranked as leading the state in economic recovery. The two counties are number four in the nation of economic recovery.
- Bradley County currently has an unemployment rate of 7.7.
Howell explained the county government is an extension of the state government. Counties are created by acts of legislatures.
He said the county government takes action and offers services for the state.
“Such as when you go to the courthouse to get your tags for your vehicle. Where do you go?” Howell asked. “You go to the county’s clerk office. Where does that money go? It goes to the state.”
He said taxes provide a lot of services offered by the state.
Howell also explained a major difference between the county and city government. City governments can decide to dissolve their system. County governments “have to exist by state law.”
Certain positions and services are then required to meet the state’s guidelines. These include the mayor, the county commission, the county sheriff’s office and the county school board.
The mayor is also the chief financial officer in the county. The mayor has recently presented his budget to the commission. The commission has the option of making adjustments, accepting or denying the proposal. Their vote determines what will be done with the roughly $130 million.
“The county mayor also has 10 or so departments under him, including EMA, EMS, Parks and Recreation, Human Resources and the fire department,” Howell said. “He deals with the personnel side of the county. We have about 650 employees.”
The County Commission sets policy.
“Their primary responsibility of commission meetings is to set policy, set the tax rate and accept the budget,” Howell said. “If there are any budget amendments throughout the year, they have to approve it.”
County finances are audited every year by the state.
Howell explained inspectors spend about six months analyzing county monies and records every year.
He said 60 percent of the county’s budget will be going to county schools for education, if approved by the County Commission. He said this is a 2 percent increase over last year’s 58 percent.
“The next largest bucket in the county’s budget would be the sheriff’s department at roughly $13.5 million,” Howell said. “Then it is broken up from there to emergency management services, the Parks and Rec department and on and on and on.”
Howell touched on the three new fire halls before citing the county being blessed as a reason for the growth.
“We are blessed. That is the only answer I have. We are blessed,” Howell said. “We are blessed with our job growth, we are blessed with our economy, we are blessed with our low unemployment rate — although it is not where we want it…”
Howell said, “We are blessed with our environment. We are blessed with our quality of life. We are blessed with the quality of people we have running our government.”
“It is just a good place to be. I am glad to be a Tennessean and I am glad to be a Bradley countian.”