It was the seven new members of the Bradley County Commission who got a course in the technicalities of the office and the adminstration over which they will help preside for the next four years.
The new members are Mike Hughes (District 1), Thomas Crye (District 2), Johnny Mull and Milan Blake (District 3), Howard Thompson (District 4), Bobby Goins (District 5) and Dan Rawls (District 6).
Current Commission Chairman Louie Alford and County Mayor D. Gary Davis led a full morning of information that will be necessary for them to know when they officially take their positions Sept. 1.
This is the largest “new class” of commissioners to take office since 2002 when it was again seven new members who took positions on the Commission.
Six new members were elected in the 1998 campaign and five captured positions in both 2008 and 2012.
The three-hour session began with County Mayor D. Gary Davis telling the seven, “We’re going to treat you just like a new employee.”
Commissioners are in fact considered county employees and are required to fill out paperwork familiar to anyone starting a new job such as W-2s and insurance information.
“We thought it would be good for you to go through this exercise, because this is what all new employees, once they are hired, must do,” Davis said.
Renee Samples, who will become the county’s new finance director on Sept. 1, explained the benefits available to the commissioners and the procedures they are required to follow in those categories.
County Attorney Crystal Freiburg explained to the new commissioners her responsibility to the county’s legal needs and details of the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts as well as conflict of interest disclosures.
Trustee Mike Smith explained his duties and what steps his office has taken over the past few years to improve service and revenue. He reviewed his annual report he gave to the commission last week.
Mike Sullivan and Frank Bryant reviewed the county’s capabilities in electronically preserving important documents.
Current budget director, Lynn Burns, guided the seven in the intricacies of the county’s major financial document.
Burns went through how the budget is prepared and figured with a very specific description of where funds come from and how they are distributed throughout the county systems.
“We have different funds for different purposes,” Burns said. “The general fund is the fund that most operations come out of unless there is a special tax, special revenue or special purpose.”
That does not include schools or health/wellness/quality of life area, she said.
Davis and Burns also explained that the budget is actually estimated on the premise the county will only receive 94 percent of its anticipated tax revenue.
“Based on history, that 94 percent is what we average receiving every year,” Davis said adding one cent on the property tax brings in $190,000.
Davis also went through the county’s long-range plans where he once again trumpeted his concerns about maintaining an adequate fund balance.
Bradley County currently has a policy to maintain a 10 percent fund balance, Davis said, “but our goal is to make that 20 percent.”
He explained while some may wonder why the policy is not set at the 20 percent level, “it was we would keep breaking our own policy and it would show up in the audits.”
“Most departments don’t spend all of their budgets in a year and that’s a good thing,” he said. “But if a department saves the taxpayers $500,000, that does not mean you have that much to go spend now, because I can assure you it’s already incorporated into the new budget.”
The newly-elected and returning commissioners will be sworn in during a formal ceremony scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29, at 9 a.m. on the Courthouse Plaza.