County commission splits on several votes Monday


In addition to a failed resolution to evaluate the county hospital, several other split votes were the outcome of the Williamson County Commission’s meeting on Monday.

In addition to a failed resolution to evaluate the county hospital, several other split votes were the outcome of the Williamson County Commission’s meeting on Monday.

By a 15-9 vote, a resolution passed to allow the commission to meet for an annual retreat within compliance of open meeting laws.

Commissioner Jeff Ford originated the concept, which would allow commissioners to build relationships and discuss county issues “outside the view of TV cameras,” much in the style of the county school board’s yearly retreat.

Some commissioners protested the retreat on the grounds that it would cost the county, but the commission could use a cost-free county facility open on weekends, like a recreation center or library. A county travel fund would cover any minimal costs of using a facility for a Saturday retreat.

The measure failed in last week’s County Budget Committee meeting.

“I don’t think [the budget committee] felt the yearly meeting was necessary,” said Commissioner Judy Lynch Herbert, who chairs that committee. “I don’t think it was necessary. You just need to attend all the [regular] meetings.”

Other commissioners, particularly those elected this year, contended the retreat could be instrumental not only to establish a vision for the county, but also get to know one another.

“Being a new commissioner, I think it’s only prudent to get together and look at the county as a whole instead of piecemeal one resolution at a time,” said Barb Sturgeon, elected this year to District 8.

“Somewhere we need to look at the big picture. This is an opportunity to do that. If we don’t do this, what do we do?”

David Pair, elected this year to District 3, supported the general idea, but thought addressing a few specific items quarterly would be more efficient than one open-ended meeting.

The commission shot down another Ford resolution which would have established a visioning committee to discuss the county’s future in terms of growth and development.

Those opposed thought the committee was redundant and contradicted the work put into developing land use policy plans for individual communities throughout Williamson County.

“Our planning commission put a lot of time and money into this,” Herbert said. “This is almost like it’s wanting to be a metro form of government.”

Committee to establish nonprofit guidelines

A resolution passed to form a temporary committee that will establish guidelines for county funding of nonprofits.

Each year when the commission approves the fiscal budget, it includes a line item for nonprofit organizations. This past July, commissioners approved $2,180,857 for those organizations, which range from emergency services to senior citizen programs.

There are more than 1,000 organizations registered with the IRS in Williamson County, but the commission has no guidelines to determine which nonprofits receive appropriations from the county, or how much.

“Tennessee allows us to appropriate funds for any nonprofit, and the law says we ‘shall devise guidelines,'” said Danner, who introduced the resolution. “That ‘shall’ is important.”

She referred to TCA 5-9-109(a)(1), which dictates county governing bodies are required to set parameters for allocating money to nonprofits.

Webb was among the commissioners opposed, and said he thought the task could be accomplished by the budget committee without forming a new committee.

The resolution passed by a 15-9 margin, with provisions that the budget committee chairman will be included on the ad hoc committee, and that the committee shall have no more than six members.

County/Franklin land and sewer service swap

A unanimous vote allows the county and the city of Franklin to enter an agreement to exchange land for services.

The county has agreed to allow the city use of about 2.5 acres of land off Long Lane to construct a fire station and potentially an EMS facility in exchange for city sewer services at the county Ag/Expo Center.

Old Hillsboro/Hillsboro realignment

Commissioners also passed a resolution allowing the county to strike an 80/20 percent grant deal with the state to add turn lanes in both directions at Old Hillsboro Road and Hillsboro Road. The realignment of the state road intersection will alleviate traffic in the Grassland community.

If the state approves, grants will cover 80 percent of the $1,235,000 million project; Williamson County will provide a 20 percent match.

Miscellaneous

Minor adjustments to the commission’s rulebook were approved, as well as a change to Rule 3.6, extending the total time from 15 minutes to 30 for citizens communications during commission meetings.

Monday evening was a sendoff for 23-year county employee Doug Hood, director of Parks and Recreation.

Hood thanked the county commission and the legislative bodies he worked with previously for the opportunity to share his ideas and make the parks department a vital aspect part of quality of life in Williamson County.

Williamson County declared November as Battle Ground Academy month to honor the local private school founded in 1889.

Commissioners also presented a proclamation to the Battle of Franklin Trust in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War Battle of Franklin.

Other resolutions and appropriations approved:

  • A resolution to update the building codes from the 2006 to the 2009 versions
  • A resolution allowing a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to cover the cost of a general sessions DUI court clinical assistant position
  • A resolution to divide a 20-acre parcel of land shared by the highway department and new EMS facility to show separate ownership
  • A resolution to partner with Williamson Square Associates to retain the recycling center in front of the former Kroger supermarket off Murfreesboro Road, which will cost the county $200 monthly
  • $12,000 to Parks and Recreation to participate in the TVA Energy Right Program, an energy efficiency program that saves the county about $6,000 annually and offers a 33 percent rebate
  • $17,951 in donations to Parks and Recreation
  • $40,000 to Parks and Recreation in donations from the Tennessee Soccer Club and Williamson County Soccer Association
  • Up to $18,720 to the Juvenile Court Clerk Office for a new deputy clerk position, the first addition to the department’s staff in 10 years
  • $5,000 in private donations to the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a storage container for the gun range
  • $9,312 in library fines to the Library budget
  • $14,805 in miscellaneous donations to the Library budget

Jessica Pace covers Williamson County, Williamson County Schools and the Town of Nolensville for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at jess@brentwoodhomepage.com or follow her on Twitter @Jess_NHP.

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