ELIZABETHTON — The Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission must have felt a touch of Christmas spirit Monday night. The committee voted 7-1 to approve a motion made by committee member Tom “Yogi” Bowers to use $46,300 of county funds to give a Christmas bonus to all county employees. Committee member Scott Sams was the only member to vote against the bonus.
Bowers said the recommended amount was enough to give every full-time employee a $200 bonus and every part-time worker a $100 bonus.
Bowers said the money would come from funds that had been placed in the budget to cover an expected increase in employee medical insurance. The county’s financial staff was surprised when the insurance company proposed to keep rates at the same level as the past year.
“We were very blessed this year,” Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said of the stable rates after several years of steep increases in the past.
“On behalf of the employees of the sheriff’s department, I want to thank you,” Sheriff Chris Mathes said. “They will appreciate this very much.”
The committee’s recommendation must still be approved by the County Commission next month before the employees can receive the bonus.
In other matters, the committee voted unanimously to reallocate $628,970 from the school capital outlay fund to install energy-efficient windows at Happy Valley and Hampton high schools. Window replacement was not a part of the energy-saving program the school system has with Johnson Controls.
Landfill Committee Chairman Joel Street told the Budget Committee the county has been awarded one grant toward its recycling program and may receive a second.
The grant that has been awarded is $27,500 for two heaters that operate on used motor oil. The new heaters will be installed in the landfill’s maintenance garage, which currently uses propane, and at the Carter County Recycling Center in the Cherokee Industrial Park. The center has not been heated in the past.
Street said the county must spend the money before the grant will be received. The money will come from the landfill’s operating transfer fund.
The second grant, for $25,000, would be used to purchase Dumpsters for the recycling program. The county had already planned to purchase 80 Dumpsters. Street said when he heard of the possibility of obtaining the grant he postponed the purchase. If the grant is approved, it could be used to purchase about half the Dumpsters. A matching grant from the county of $6,250 would be required. That money is already budgeted toward the purchase of Dumpsters and there would be no need to move funds around.
The committee also approved a reallocation of $170,000 to cover the opening costs of the new jail. About $60,000 would be added to vehicle maintenance to cover additional costs of keeping the aging fleet operational.
There was also a $9,486.73 bill for the clean up of methamphetamine labs in June. Deloach said the money could be reimbursed and recommended taking it out of the General Fund. Mathes suggested it could come from his drug fund, but Deloach said it would require more red tape when the county is reimbursed if it came from the drug fund.