County opposes bill on trustee compensation

By AUTUMN HUGHES

Posted 3/8/18

The Bradley County Commission is taking a stand against what local officials refer to as a “silly” and “unnecessary” proposed state law.

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County opposes bill on trustee compensation

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The Bradley County Commission is taking a stand against what local officials refer to as a “silly” and “unnecessary” proposed state law.

Commissioners approved a resolution opposing Tennessee Senate Bill 896/House Bill 1380 “regarding changes to the compensation of the county trustee for receiving and paying over to the rightful authorities all moneys received.”

According to the resolution, on Feb. 9, 2017, SB 896/HB 1380 was filed for introduction regarding amendments to the Tennessee Code Annotated. Days later, on Feb. 15, 2017, it was assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Since then, no other action appears to have been taken.

The proposed bill would amend TCA to add that “once the county trustee has collected an amount equal to one hundred ten percent (110%) of the estimated cost of operation of the trustee’s office for the fiscal year as supported by the county’s approved budget document, the trustee shall cease collecting further compensation for the remainder of the fiscal year.”

The Finance Committee voted to recommend to the full commission that a resolution opposing the proposed bill be approved by the commission. It reads:

“… The Bradley County Commission requests that Governor Bill Haslam, the Bradley County Legislative Delegation, and the Tennessee General Assembly oppose Senate Bill 896/House Bill 1380 regarding changes to the compensation of the county trustee for receiving and paying over to the rightful authorities all moneys received.”

The proposed bill was initially discussed on Monday at the Finance Committee meeting when Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith spoke to the committee. Smith said part of the fees collected by the trustee’s office go to the operation of his office and the rest goes to the county’s general fund. He said if the proposed bill becomes law the county would see the same amount of money going to its finances, but he sees a problem with the budgeting process for the county mayor and commission.

He said county leaders would have to figure on the revenue side how much goes to each department.

“I’m not pushing either way” but wanted to point out it could become a problem, Smith said. He added he believes the proposed bill stems from a Tennessee county trustee who didn’t turn over the fees to county government in a timely manner, adding that is not an issue in Bradley County.

“It’s entirely up to you, I just wanted to warn you beforehand of the problems you could run into,” Smith said. “If I were in your shoes I would oppose this” because it will become more work to track funding.

Smith said little has been said at the county trustees’ meetings, but that the proposed bill is “still alive” although it has not seen any movement.

“It’ll make it a lot harder to check the revenues,” Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said of the proposed bill, adding it’s “a silly law” he hopes is dead.

Finance Committee Chairman Milan Blake presented the committee’s recommendation to oppose the proposed bill to the full commission.

“It’s going to put an unnecessary burden on county commissions across Tennessee if this goes into effect,” Blake told his fellow commissioners.

Commissioner Dan Rawls, who is a member of the Finance Committee, said the biggest burden is the added degree of complexity as to how the money is divided, and that the proposed bill adds time and a process “we don’t need.”

Blake said State Rep. Dan Howell asked for this resolution for when the proposed bill is discussed in committee in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Commissioner Bill Winters stated Bradley County has “the best Trustee in the State of Tennessee” in Mike Smith, and he should be allowed to run his office.

The commission unanimously approved the resolution.

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