Category Archives: Roane in Review

Founders Day – Nov 2018

{Amber Cofer, Assistant to the County Executive}

Pause and Honor Our County’s Treasures
Roane County was officially founded on November 6, 1801. In 2007 Roane County began celebrating Roane County’s Birthday with the Founder’s Day Celebration by naming a Class of Roane Treasures each year. Every year we pause to honor the individuals who have shaped Roane County into the county it is today. These individual have made tremendous contributions not only to our county but also the state and nation. The Treasures are individuals who have helped shape the county’s history through different endeavors.

Roane County will be honoring the following individuals at this year’s Founder’s Day Celebration:
Roane Treasures (70-90 years old): James Little, Dillard Moore, Earl Nall, Jessie June Raby Nelson, and Alton Richards.
Golden Treasures (90 years or older): Gerald Lay, Charles Harris, and Warren Kocher We welcome all to celebrate Roane County’s 217th birthday as we honor the Twelfth Class of Roane Treasures.

Among those honored will be the first African American coal tester at TVA in Kingston, a senior fitness instructor, Boys and Girls Clubs mentors, military veterans and a WWII POW survivor.

New Agribusiness Loan Program – Nov 2018

{Jamie Kinard – Roane County Executive’s Office Grants Coordinator}

The East Tennessee Development District (ETDD) received funding from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TGA) to start a new agribusiness loan program. These low-interest revolving loans are to stimulate farm and agribusiness income. The offer is to aid in the purchase of machinery and equipment that create, retain jobs or produce new markets for locally produced farm products. This new loan program is operated by the ETDD with oversight by the TGA. The max loan amount set is $25k. All loans have a minimum interest rate of 4.0% (2% below prime) for a max of 7 years.

Applicants must be a Tennessee resident and 18 years or older as of the first of the year. Applicants must operate a farm or agribusiness and demonstrate ability/ financial capacity to operate.

Tennessee farmers can procure buildings, greenhouses, remodel projects, aquaculture production ponds, harvesting, and processing equipment, beehives, coolers, irrigation, permanent fencing, livestock equipment, and grain storage. Tractors, property, travel, and salaries are a few of the ineligible criteria. More details will be available in December.

Roane County Legislative Body is Changing – Sept 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

Roane County Legislative Body is Changing: Seven new commissioners will join eight incumbent commissioners to lead our county for the next four years and beyond. We are also welcoming a new Trustee, and County Clerk. A profile of the incoming commissioners and new officials will be in the October Roane County Newsletter. Upon initial review, the freshmen commissioners lower the average age of the Commission. We anticipate a fresh perspective and vision for our community. Our new Commissioners have recently attended County Officials Orientation Program through the University of Tennessee to help their understanding of government functions and operations. A county orientation will be presented to our new and existing Commissioners. The public is invited to the orientation on September 6th at 6pm. The presentation will be available on RoaneCountyTN.gov under the County Executive’s Summaries under the Executive Summary 61. The orientation will address the function of government, responsibilities, and the authority of the legislative body, challenges, and opportunities for the future.

Roane County Planning Commission Looks at a New High School site location: County Executive Ron Woody formally requested the Roane County Planning Commission to use all available planning tools such as census data, traffic patterns, growth patterns, utility availability, and any other pertinent tools for planning in order to ensure the most optimal location for a potential Roane County investment. (County Executive Letter to the Planning Commission 7.31.18)

Revolving Loan Fund: Growing Jobs in Roane County – Nov 2018

{Amber Cofer, Loan Manager & Jennifer Suter, Reporting Officer}

In 1987, Roane County Government received Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) from the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) for the establishment of the Roane County Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund.

These funds were obtained to provide low-interest loans to local businesses, create new jobs, retain existing jobs and aid small business development. In essence, Roane County will act as a “bank” and accept the responsibilities of a commercial lender when making an RFL loan to a local business.

This program allows Roane County to play an active role in helping to create jobs and expand the business base in our community. Currently, our portfolio consists of 14 active loans and 23 loans that have been fully repaid. Each business loan is classified as a fixed asset or working capital loan. In a fixed asset loan, the money is used for the construction or renovation of real property or the purchase of equipment. Proceeds from a working capital loan are used to fund the day to day operations of a business, typical of a startup.

As of June 30, 2018, Roane County has invested $2,877,604 in local business and has generated $449,923 in interest income. There have been 871 jobs created and 369 jobs saved. Roane County’s EDA Board consists of members of the community who have specialized knowledge of lending and economic development. The County Executive serves as chair, the Board also includes a representative from the Industrial Development Board, a local bank officer, and two area business owners. This board approves loans that make it past the general vetting process before any funds are distributed. Because this involves federal funding, the County files a semiannual report to the US Department of Commerce to ensure appropriate internal control structures are being followed.

To be considered eligible for these funds, you must be establishing or expanding a business within the boundaries of the Roane County EDA plan. Hopefully, this article has given a bit of background on what this important program does and, more importantly, how it’s helping grow the economy of our wonderful county.

If you would like more information on the requirements and eligible activities regarding the EDA Loan, you may contact the EDA Loan Manager, Amber Cofer at the County Executive’s Office at 865.717.4103 or come by the County Executive’s Office and pick up an information packet.

No Tax Increase – Aug 2018

We are operating under the fiscal 2019 Budget. Thank you to the Roane County Budget Committee members: Darryl Meadows, Carolyn Granger, James Brummett, and Mike Hooks for their hard work on the fiscal 2019 budget. Many improvements have been made over the years in budget planning and preparation with the county establishing a solid financial foundation to help make long-term decisions. The Budget Committee held a public hearing, followed by a budget committee meeting and finally a County Commission work session. The County Commission unanimously approved the Appropriation Resolution and Tax Resolution.

Some highlights of the budget include:

  • A 2% raise for general government employees
  • Approval of the Seventh Capital Improvement Plan for the general government
  • A continuation of the multi-year debt budgets
  • Allocation of funds to purchase the final property for the jail improvement project
  • Plans for a Rockwood ambulance station

Topics of Continued Deliberation Include:

  • We anticipate the school improvement plan discussion will continue in the coming months
  • The Wheel Tax will be considered on the November ballot

The county continues to purchase assets from current revenue instead of debt financing. This allows for the necessary replacements of ambulances and patrol cars as they approach obsolescence. Stay tuned to further Roane County Newsletters, as we will be announcing further improvements budgeted for the Office of Emergency Services and animal control.

A Path Forward Make Roane County Better – July 2018

We are finishing the 2019 Budget with hopefully an adoption by Commission on July 9th. A new Commission will be elected on August 2, 2018, which will consist of at least five (5) new commissioners. We welcome two (2) new commissioners who are running unopposed: Shannon Hester will be replacing Carolyn Granger, and Ben Gann will be replacing Todd Fink. Not seeking re-election are Peggy Collier, Renee Kelley, and Chris Johnson. With a number of new commissioners, a new fiscal year and a number of initiatives the staff has been working on are some of the items we are going to be addressing. We hope to have an orientation and planning session in mid-September for the newly seated Commission.

Briefly here is a list of items we are working on:

  • Jail Phase II
  • School Improvement Plan
  • Old Caney Creek Campground
  • Riley Creek Campground
  • Ambulance Stations

Operational Issues/Concerns/Consideration of Policy:

  • Property and Liability Insurance-Market or Pools
  • Health Insurance State Plan or Market Plan
  • Workers Compensation – Self Insurance Performance
  • Opioid Crisis
  • Back Tax Property Management
  • Ambulance Department
  • Consolidation on Partnering of Municipal Services
  • Potential Impacts of School Consolidation
  • Management of Swan Pond Sports Complex
  • Asset Management (Back Tax Properties)
  • Solid Waste Collections and Disposals

We are pleased to have put into place a financial infrastructure that helps us have a long term planning process. The planning of making County government begins with a “Vision,” and twice a year internally we aspire to create or refine our previous visions. We encourage you to help us in the process. Give us a call or send us an email of what you think can make our communities better.

Budgets, School Building Program, Elections – Another Busy Summer – June 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

2019 Budget: The Budget Committee has just about wrapped up the 2019 Budget. Final work should be concluded with the Budge Committee and Public Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at 6:30 pm. The committee has reviewed and has recommended all county budgets.
The Highway Fund has a 5% raise scheduled for all their employees with all other funds having a 2% raise. The Highway Fund has a new state gasoline tax revenue. The other funds are suffering from the lack of revenue growth prohibiting a greater raise.
The General Fund which includes the Sheriff Department and Jail operations continue to create budget challenges due to jail overcrowding, which increases inmate medical care, housing cost, and staffing over time.

The School Building Program continues to receive the most attention, and it appears that additional research and study is needed to ensure that the potential largest County investment ever, which will not only be a large dollar investment but also be an investment that will be used for at least five decades. Much research and analysis should be made for the County’s future.
We have published a number of articles on the county website that we hope are thought provoking. Please take time to review these articles on our websites publication page and under the heading Education Capital Projects. Also, on the county homepage under special announcements, you can find two school presentations.

Election Time: Roane County will most definitely see a few new elected leaders as our Trustee and County Court Clerk has chosen to retire (a future newsletter shall address their faithful service). Two officials are unopposed, Sheriff Jack Stockton and Circuit/Sessions Clerk Ann Goldston. A number of Commissioners are also choosing not to run. It will be a busy “hot summer.” Please get out and Vote!

Hyper Reach Emergency Information System – May 2018

{Traci Cofer, Assistant Director of Office of Emergency Services}

Traci Cofer, the Assistant Director for the Roane County Office of Emergency Services, spoke at the Leadership Roane County Class of 2018 Graduation and Chamber Banquet on Friday, April 20, 2018. The Leadership Roane County 2018 class members collaborated together to develop a media campaign for Roane County’s Hyper-Reach Emergency Information System. The Office of Emergency Services (OES) partnered with Roane State’s Communications Professor and students to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to be shown on local television stations, social media platforms, as well as radio stations. The success of this project is measurable because we can watch the number of sign-ups grow over the years as the PSA is circulated throughout the various categories of media. You can see the chart below for the base number of sign-ups for 2018. We also partnered with Roane State’s Student Activities Coordinator to have all annual incoming Freshmen signed up when they come in for Orientation. OES also purchased two 39” x 88” banners with signup information to be displayed at Roane State Community College’s main campus in Harriman and the Roane County Courthouse. Our next step in the media campaign project is to have all City/ County Officials and community leaders post pictures of themselves with our banner with the slogan “I’m signed up! “on their various pages and social media sites. This will help promote sign up based on the public trust in their community leaders.

MonthCount
April 243
March151
Feb16
Jan63

Financial Planning is Paying Off – April 2018

Life’s successes are often due to many factors. Some would say luck is important for success. Others say success is due to hard work, timing, experience and/or education. All these factors and more can contribute to success, but one attribute we can not and must not overlook is planning. Planning is projecting out into the future, looking at “what if” and “what could be” and formulating a path to achieve a particular goal.

A little over seven years ago, we formulated a financial plan for Roane County. I have written and talked about it many times as we implemented financial policies of debt management, capital, and fund balances. Thank you County Commission for seeing and supporting the vision. Here is the success and how it is paying off. First, we have not borrowed for General Capital purposes in the last seven (7) years. Up until FY11, we borrowed basically every year. In FY12 we established Capital Funds to take care of the small cost capital items with the goal of using our borrowing capacity for big-ticket items. One of those big-ticket items is Jail Expansion. As early as 2010, our administration recognized the need for the jail expansion and started planning for this capital investment. I am pleased and proud to say that Roane County Government appears to be able to build Phase II of a Jail expansion program at an estimated cost of $5-6 million without a tax increase.

Yes, we saw the vision. We executed a financial plan. We managed capital and debt. We developed 30-year debt budgets. We refinanced debt when appropriate. We paid the debt off early when possible. We did not do further borrowing. Finally, we positioned ourselves for the right timing to have the least financial impact on our citizens. Yes, we will have to borrow to build Phase II, but our General Debt Fund has sufficient revenue and fund balance to satisfy our new proposed debt requirements without a tax increase. Our tentative schedule for Phase II of Jail Expansion is hiring Architects in March 2018. We plan to borrow in the Spring of 2019 and begin construction after financing is finalized. More to come on the plan as we work with the Architects. The Budget Committee met March 20, 2018 and after reviewing the multi-year debt budgets, recommended the General, Rural Education, and Education Debt Service budgets for 2019. Planning Our Future Is Important.

In Memory of Steve Kelley – March 2018

This time of the year we generally start writing about the up and coming County Budget, but we shall pause and write about an outstanding Budget Committee member who passed on February 21, 2018, at the age of 63, Steve Kelley. Steve joined the Roane County Budget Committee in September 2011 and served faithfully representing all of Roane County as a member.
Steve was elected from the Oliver Springs, Orchard View and Oak Hills voter
precincts and was a resident of the city of Oak Ridge, TN. He represented his district and Roane County with the utmost integrity and was always inquisitive and fair in his approach to governance. Steve was a quiet leader who earned respect from his fellow Commissioners. He had a passion for education but was concerned about all County Government services and the employees of the County. He loved his wife Renee and three (3) boys. Steve was raised on Dearmond Road in the South of the River community and graduated from Roane County High School. He served our Country in the U.S. Navy and worked at Third Dimension Technologies as he was a self-taught programmer with a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Tusculum College. Steve served with various volunteer organizations including as an executive member of the Roane County Democratic Party. Steve will be missed by his family, his friends, and his fellow workers and Commission colleagues. Steve we will miss your friendship and government leadership.