Macon County Chronicle

Commissioners Vote Yes to Hotel Tax, More Debris Clean-Up

Visitors to Macon County’s hotels and motels will soon have a 5% tax added to their bills, to be dedicated to the development of tourism, if things go the way county commissioners voted at their regular meeting on July 21. The tax may generate as much as $18,000 per year, according to Tourism Committee Chair Carolyn Whitaker, who based her estimate on the amount generated in other counties that are comparable to Macon.

The hotels and motels will receive 2% of the 5%, for their collection. The Tourism Committee will get the other 3% for the development of tourism in the county.

The resolution to pursue a Private Act for the collection of such a tax was passed on first reading, with Commissioner Phillip Snow voting No. The resolution will still have to be passed on second reading before being sent to the state legislature in January of 2009 to be written as a Private Act.

Commissioners also decided that the waterways of the county need an additional clean-up project, as proposed by District Conservationist Phillip Dixon at their July 7 meeting.

The project will include some of the same sites that were cleaned up after the February 5 tornado burdened the county’s creeks to overflowing; but this time, crews will remove debris 200 feet to each side of approved creeks.

The nine sites approved for the project are the first tributary north of York Branch, Long Branch next to Pumpkin Town, the tributary to White Oak Creek south of Swindle Tucker Road, White Oak Creek east of Cook Cemetery Road, the tributary west of Cave Hollow, the tributary off of Akersville Road, the tributary off of Williams Road, Griggs Road at Mooningham Branch, and Honey Branch.

A motion to approve the project, and the $55,225 it will cost the county was passed with Commissioners Bransford, Snow, Tucker, Looper, and Malo voting No.

A motion concerning a Tornado Memorial that was passed to Monday night’s meeting from the July 7 meeting was rescinded unanimously, after additional information about the memorial was presented by County Mayor Shelvy Linville. The rescinded motion approved the placement of a monument on the Courthouse grounds with a resolution recognizing everyone who helped, a memorial listing of those who lost their lives because of the tornado, and to be paid for with funds raised from the Jett Williams Tornado Relief Concert. The monument would carry no advertising, Linville explained at the July 7 meeting.

“I’ve got something to explain to you,” said Linville at the July 21 meeting. “You might want to give this some thought. Keith Atkinson wants something like Donated by Jett Williams Tornado Relief Concert Funds put on that monument. Call it recognition, call it whatever you like – I told you all there would be no advertising.”

Linville further explained that he had checked into the cost of a monument like the veterans monument and gotten an estimate of $3,100.

Commissioners passed a motion, unanimously, to pay up to $3,000 out of general funds for a monument to recognize all those who helped during and after the tornado, and with a memorial listing of the 19 people who lost their lives as either a direct or indirect result of the storm – no recognition of funds included.

“Unless somebody wants to do it without their name on it,” said Commissioner Vernon Biggs, who made the motion.

“Can a private citizen donate money designated for the memorial?” asked a private citizen in the audience.

“Certainly,” said Linville. “You can do it at my office tomorrow. You don’t even have to wait until tomorrow.”

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Tennessee Technology Center at Hartsville, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and Jackson and Macon Counties was approved by commissioners unanimously. The Memorandum spells out the conditions under which the TBR will eventually take over the operation of the Tri-County Vocational School, which will happen in four years according to the contract.

The part of the Memorandum that commissioners were concerned with was the part that spells out what the counties will provide, which is $300,000 each to be paid over a four year period. Macon County will provide $100,000 for each of the first two years of the agreement, and $50,000 each of the last two years.”

“After that, the Board of Regents will take it over lock, stock, and barrel,” said Linville, who pointed out that the first two years’ payments were $6,000 less than the $106,000 per year payment that the county had been providing.

In other business, commissioners:

•heard a request from Warrant Officer Ralph Meeks for a raise.

“With the cost of gas, I’m paying one third to one half of my daily earnings to drive back and forth to the jail,” said Meeks, who travels to the jail to write warrants between two and five times a day.

Meeks suggested that he needed a raise, or the two cities needed to hire their own warrant officers.
“That would cut my gas costs in half,” Meeks estimated. Combined city warrants account for about half of the warrants that Meeks writes.

County Attorney Guy Holliman wasn’t sure who was responsible for Meek’s raise – the county or the cities – but said he would look into it so the issue could be discussed at the July 28 Budget Committee Meeting.

•heard a report that Welcome Center bids had been opened and sent on to TDOT for review.

•heard that the county would be paying more for health insurance premiums for county employees. The county pays 70% of employees monthly premiums, which will go up from $244 per month to $267 per month. Employees will also be offered a dental plan, which they will pay 100% of if they decide they want it.

•reappointed James Ralph Howser, George McCrary, and Obera Morgan to three-year terms on Macon County’s Library Board.

•passed Macon County Schools’ Federal Project Fund.

•heard a report from Linville that he was in the process of getting approval for a septic tank system for the county Dog Pound; then Tri-County would put up temporary service; then construction could start on the Dog Pound.

•passed a motion to provide an ambulance and two deputies for a two-day Grand National Cross Country Motorcycle Race, to be hosted by Jerry Henderson on his property.

The next meeting of the Committee of the Whole will be on August 4 at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse.