New tax revenues plus cuts will fund pay raises in Anderson schools

Rachel Minardo at Anderson County Commission

Rachel Minardo, president of the Anderson County Education Association, had advocated for a 4 percent pay raise for county school teachers and staff. Above, she talks to the 16-member Anderson County Commission in Clinton on Monday, July 20, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


CLINTON—New tax revenues of about $700,000 plus about $100,000 in cuts will allow Anderson County Schools to fund 2 percent pay raises for teachers and staff, the county budget director said Wednesday.

The Anderson County Commission approved a 10-cent increase in the property tax rate on Monday, July 20, and eight cents of that was for schools. Anderson County Schools will get about $700,000 from the tax rate increase, but at last week’s meeting, school officials said they still had to come up with another $100,000 or so to fund the 2 percent raises.

Chris Phillips, Anderson County accounts and budget director, said the school system was able to do that in a revised budget submitted to the county government on Wednesday. [Read more…]

Tax rate increases, changes in AC, Clinton, Oliver Springs, RC, Rocky Top

Increases in the property tax rate have been approved or are anticipated in budgets that have already passed in Anderson County, Clinton, Oliver Springs, Roane County, and Rocky Top.

Those increases are in addition to the increases already expected because of a drop in overall property assessments in Anderson and Roane counties. The 4 percent drop in Anderson County and 3.47 percent decline in Roane County mean the tax-neutral rate—the rate meant to bring in the same amount of revenues after a reappraisal as before—goes up.

The highest tax increase, which includes a 6-cent change in the certified tax rate after five-year reappraisals, is 40 cents. That’s in Rocky Top, where the new tax rate is $2 per $100 of assessed value.

The lowest so far is in Anderson County, where county commissioners have approved a 10-cent increase for 2 percent pay raises for school and county employees. That’s in addition to the roughly 16-cent increase in the tax-neutral, or certified, tax rate.

Oak Ridge will be the last of those half-dozen governments to consider any changes to the tax-neutral rate. In Oak Ridge, the rate has been calculated at $2.52, up 13 cents from the current $2.39.

Oak Ridge could also be the only one of those half-dozen governments that doesn’t add a tax rate increase to this year’s higher tax-neutral rate. So far, it appears that a majority of Oak Ridge City Council members could support the $2.52 rate, although two Council members, Trina Baughn and Rick Chinn, have advocated for a reduction, possibly by two cents to $2.50.

Here is information on the increases or potential increases: [Read more…]

ADFAC school supplies distribution under way

Clinton Fire Department and ADFAC School Supplies

Members of the Clinton Fire Department spend a morning packing school supplies, loading the fire truck, and delivering them to Clinton schools. (Submitted photo)


Since Thursday, July 9, volunteers from all over Anderson County have been sorting donated school supplies for Oak Ridge and Anderson County schools, packing them in bags and backpacks that are loaded into vehicles and distributing the packed items to classrooms.

Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties has been coordinating the collection, packing, and distribution of school supplies for 26 years. As a result, teachers aren’t obliged to spend their hard-earned money on items needed by their growing number of students from disadvantaged families.

Last year. ADFAC provided school supplies to more than 2,500 area students from disadvantaged families. This year, the local nonprofit service organization’s staff hopes to increase the number of school supplies by 12 percent with the help of ongoing support from the community. [Read more…]

TWRA officers rescue capsized kayakers from Clinch River in Clinton

CLINTON—Two wildlife officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency went into rescue mode late this evening, bringing a happy ending to what could have turned into a sad story, authorities said.

At around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Steve and Connie Hunter of Ten Mile, Tennessee, were enjoying a kayak float with their sons down the Clinch River near the Second Baptist Church in Clinton when both were capsized into 45 degree water. Their sons attempted to stay with them, but the strong current forced them downstream where they made it to shore and dialed 911.

TWRA Sergeant Roy Smith and Officer Jeff Roberson responded to the accident alongside Anderson County Rescue Squad, Clinton Police Department, and Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

At around 5:20 p.m., Smith and Roberson located the Hunters clinging to a log overhanging the river. The officers brought the subjects into their patrol boat and transported them to shore where they were assessed by Anderson County EMS and released. [Read more…]

Clinton fire truck damaged by manhole cover

Clinton Fire Department Patch

Information from WYSH Radio

Tuesday’s strong thunderstorms caused only a few problems inside Clinton, the biggest of which was a water main break that contributed to damaging a city fire truck.

Because of the water main break, likely caused in part by the runoff from Tuesday’s heavy rainfall, a manhole cover came up under the railroad trestle on Main Street and ruptured the fuel tank of a Clinton Fire Department truck on its way to a call.

The truck was able to make it back to the downtown fire hall, and it was towed from there for repairs. No injuries were reported on the truck.

Clinton Utilities Board responded to the water main break, and the utility’s insurance is expected to pay for the damage to the fire truck.

The only other damage inside the city was a downed tree on North Main Street that crews had cleared before 5 a.m. Several trees were reported down in the county, but they were also cleared overnight.

Clinton man dies in Saturday night crash

Clinton Police Department Badge

Note: This story was updated at 11:51 a.m.

A Clinton man died in a single-vehicle crash on Clinch Avenue on Saturday night, authorities said.

Witnesses told police that Johnny Sparks, 66, was driving his pickup truck southbound on Clinch Avenue, near Lee Road, at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday when he swerved into the northbound lane, barely missing an oncoming vehicle.

An accident reconstruction team from the Clinton Police Department said the truck then ran into a concrete culvert, and Sparks was ejected from the truck.

There were no other passengers in Sparks’ vehicle, the CPD said. [Read more…]

Guest column: All AC communities decreased in assessed value, which is unprecedented

Note: This is a copy of a letter from Leonard A. Abbatiello, Anderson County/Oak Ridge Equalization Board representative, to Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch and City Council regarding the 2015 Board of Equalization results.

Dear Honorable Mayor Gooch and Members of City Council:

I currently serve as the Oak Ridge representative on the Anderson County Board of Equalization.

The Anderson County Board of Equalization has completed its task of appraisal hearings for 2015. Attached is our report which has been sent to the Tennessee State Appraisal Office. It is the first year ever when there has been a decrease in the total appraisal base, Anderson County’s first in history.

This is also the lightest Board workload in recent history. This year, we evaluated 208 cases totaling $125,886,000 of appraised value, reducing their total to $95,781,000. Commercial appeals are now dominating Anderson County appeals, with the requests for changes in commercial exceeding residential values by 5.6 times. Some commercial cases are expected to also appeal to the state for additional relief. [Read more…]

Bridge repair project = lane closures

Information from WYSH Radio

A bridge repair project on Highway 61 will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction on the bridge over Interstate 75 beginning Tuesday, July 14, and continuing until the project’s scheduled completion date of October 31.

Mid-State Construction, based out of Livingston, sent a letter as required by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to the Clinton Police, Fire, and Public Works departments, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, Anderson County EMS, the U.S. Postal Service, and both the Clinton and Anderson County school systems. All of them could be affected by the project, so they were informed of the upcoming lane restrictions. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge, Clinton teachers appointed to first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet

Cathy Ginel

Cathy Ginel

Teachers in Oak Ridge and Clinton have been selected to serve on the first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet.

The Oak Ridge teacher, Cathy Ginel, is a seventh-grade science teacher at Robertsville Middle School. The Clinton teacher, Abbey Kidwell, is a fourth-grade teacher at South Clinton Elementary School.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the appointment of the 18 teachers to the cabinet on Tuesday.

The cabinet will meet quarterly with Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to share real-time information from the classroom, give advice on policy considerations, and provide a direct line of communication to schools and communities, a press release said. [Read more…]

Water advisory sent to wrong Clinton; city says water clean, safe to drink

Clinton City Manager Roger Houck on Sunday said an apparent misrouting of information may be the reason at least one city resident received a “Notice of Water Advisory” this weekend.

“We have confirmed that the Web address and phone information included in the advisory is for Clinton, Utah…not Tennessee,” Houck said in a press release. “When you go to the Utah website, you will see that they, indeed, have issued an advisory for their area.”

A woman who lives on Mariner Point Drive in Clinton, Tennessee, told officials that she received an email and a phone call saying that local water samples had tested positive for E. coli, and customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink unless it is boiled. [Read more…]

Hibbett Sports store could open in Clinton this summer

Hibbett Sporting Goods Inc., the national sporting goods retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama, plans to open a store in Clinton this summer.

The company announced on Tuesday that it had executed a lease for the new Hibbett Sports store at Centre Plaza, which is on North Charles G. Seivers Boulevard near the Clinch River and across the Boulevard from Hammer’s.

The company expects to employ eight full and part-time workers at the new store. Currently, Hibbett has 62 locations in the state of Tennessee, including one in Oak Ridge. [Read more…]

City, schools to present budgets to Council today

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

Note: This story was updated at 9:23 a.m.

The municipal and school budgets will be presented to the Oak Ridge City Council during a meeting this evening (Monday, June 1).

The municipal budget will be presented by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson. The schools budget will be presented by Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. today in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom at 200 South Tulane Avenue. See the agenda here.

City officials have been striving to present a budget that does not include a property tax rate increase. But it wasn’t clear as of last week if that would be possible because of a dramatic drop in sales tax revenues from the Roane County portion of the city. [Read more…]