Commission again approves 10-cent tax increase for pay raises, schools

Anderson County Teachers at County Commission

Roughly three-quarters of those attending the budget deliberations at Anderson County Commission wore red—”Red for Public Ed”—on Monday, July 20, 2015. (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Note: This story was last updated at 11 p.m.

CLINTON—The Anderson County Commission has again approved a 10-cent tax rate increase for 2 percent pay raises for county employees, teachers, and school staff, and this time the result is final.

The first attempt in July ended in a legislative stalemate when commissioners failed to raise the tax rate by 10 cents, even though the budget they had passed earlier anticipated that increase. Commissioners first vote on the budget and then vote on the tax rate.

In their second attempt on Thursday, August 13, commissioners first approved budgets with the total 10-cent increase and then raised the tax rate by 10 cents. That ended a long process that began as early as May and included seven meetings, according to one official.

“We’re just relieved that the process is finally over,” said Rachel Minardo, president of the Anderson County Education Association. [Read more…]

Pay raises, new money for schools in jeopardy

Anderson County Teachers at County Commission

Roughly three-quarters of those attending the budget deliberations at Anderson County Commission on Monday, July 20, 2015, wore red—”Red for Public Ed.” Teachers thought they could be getting a 2 percent pay raise, but after a special Thursday night meeting to adopt the new tax rate, it’s not clear if that will still happen. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Note: This story was last updated with a poll at 10 a.m. July 31.

CLINTON—Pay raises for county employees and educators and new money for three school systems, including Oak Ridge’s, are in jeopardy after the Anderson County Commission rejected a property tax rate increase on Thursday.

A 10-cent rate hike had been anticipated in a budget approved by the Anderson County Commission in a 9-5-1 vote on Monday, July 20.

But the Commission failed to adopt the new higher tax rate during a follow-up meeting on Thursday, July 30. Commissioners rejected the higher rate in an 8-5 vote. Nine votes were needed for passage.

The higher tax rate was expected to help fund 2 percent pay raises for Anderson County Schools teachers and staff and county employees. It was also expected to generate another $423,000 in funding for Oak Ridge Schools and $134,000 for Clinton Schools. [Read more…]

AC Commission approves 10-cent tax rate increase for pay raises

Rachel Minardo at Anderson County Commission

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


Note: This story was last updated at 4 p.m.

CLINTON—After rejecting a few other proposals, Anderson County commissioners on Monday approved a 10-cent property tax rate increase to fund 2 percent pay raises for county employees and school teachers and staff.

The vote for the tax rate increase was 9-5-1.

Eight cents of the 10-cent increase is for Anderson County Schools, and the other two cents will cover the pay raise for county employees, with the exception of elected officials and county commissioners.

Earlier in the five-hour meeting, commissioners rejected proposals to:

  • raise the property tax rate by 10 cents for a 2 percent pay raise for the schools,
  • raise the tax rate by 5 cents for a 1 percent raise,
  • approve the school budget as submitted with no tax increase,
  • raise the property tax rate by 7.5 cents for the schools, and
  • use $1.7 million from the fund balance for a one-time bonus for schools in Anderson County, Oak Ridge, and Clinton.

Teachers said they haven’t had a pay raise since 2012, and they last received a bonus in 2013 and that was $200. They have said all the surrounding school districts except Campbell County pay more, and they want to be able to recruit and retain good teachers—and not be a training ground for other districts. [Read more…]

WYSH: Update on county mayor’s records request in Clinton

Information from WYSH Radio

Updating a story that WYSH Radio brought you last week, officials with the city of Clinton say they are awaiting a response from the Anderson County Mayor’s Office to their response to her request last week for e-mail and other electronic communications involving City Codes Officer Curtis Perez.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank requested all e-mails involving Perez and anyone in the County Public Works Office as it pertains to David Crowley, the director of Public Works for Anderson County. Crowley is under indictment for allegedly inspecting five homes without the proper certification, and that case has resulted in turmoil in the Anderson County Courthouse.

After the request was made last week in Clinton, officials decided to wait for guidance from the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service, or MTAS, as to how to respond, and they placed Perez’s computer into the evidence room at the Clinton Police Department until they received that guidance. The city declined the request for records, saying that it was too vague, but indicated they would provide the desired information when they received a more specific request. [Read more…]

AC Commission replaces Phillips with Bates

Zach Bates

Zach Bates

WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today

The Anderson County Commission has voted to replace Chris Phillips in Commission District 4 with the man whose vacated seat he won in August.

Phillips resigned his Commission seat—won in the August 7 election—so that he could return to work as the county’s budget and accounts director after leaving that post earlier this year to become city recorder in his native Rocky Top. Phillips left the county government to help the town update its accounting practices as it makes the transition from Lake City to Rocky Top and prepares for what is expected to be a busy time for the city. [Read more…]

Phillips to return as county budget director, step down as commissioner

Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips

CLINTON—Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank announced Thursday that Chris Phillips will be rejoining Anderson County government as budget director.

“I never wanted Chris to leave, but I certainly understood from the beginning that Lake City, now Rocky Top, was in search of next-level management in modernizing their accounting structure,” Frank said. “Though Chris tried to accomplish Rocky Top’s goals by working part-time on weekends, it really took him leaving the county to be in Rocky Top full-time. I made it clear from the get-go that if I had not filled the budget director position, he was always welcome back home here in Anderson County government.”

“While the thought of disappointing those who were kind enough to vote for me weighs heavily on me, I know I can best serve the people of this county by implementing and directing policy, rather than making policy, and that requires that I step down from my position as Commissioner to serve Anderson County in another way,” said Phillips, who was elected to one of two Anderson County Commission seats in District 4 on August 7.

Phillips will resign his County Commission seat effective October 10, a press release said.

Former Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates, who ran for county mayor in the May 6 Republican primary, did not seek re-election in District 4, which includes the Lake City (Rocky Top), Briceville, and Rosedale voting precincts. [Read more…]

County officials urged to hire attorneys in ouster suit as legal fees rise

Jay Yeager and Lynn Byrge

Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager, left, the defendant in an ouster suit filed by a group of residents, is pictured with Lynn Byrge, one of the petitioners, during a Monday morning Anderson County Commission meeting.


Note: This story was last updated at 10:06 a.m. July 22.

CLINTON—The legal fees in a few high-profile disputes between top Anderson County officials could approach a half-million dollars, and Anderson County commissioners should all seek their own legal counsel in an ouster lawsuit filed against the law director, stunned commissioners were told Monday.

Subpoenas have already been issued in the ouster suit, and several officials, including a few County Commissioners, have reportedly received letters asking them to waive their attorney-client privilege.

Anderson County Commissioner Myron Iwanski, who is former interim mayor, said some of the records he’s been asked to provide go back 10 years, and some of them are personnel records. Iwanski said he needs legal representation because he doesn’t want to disclose anything improper, a mistake that could lead to another lawsuit.

“It’s about trying to do what’s right for the county,” Iwanski said.

He said former Anderson County Jail Administrator Avery Johnson has also been served with a subpoena and will need legal representation.

“This is just the start of the legal battle,” Iwanski said. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Anderson County primary voting totals

Anderson County Election Commission

Here are the unofficial election results for the contested races in the Democratic and Republican primaries in Anderson County on Tuesday. The results include all 27 precincts, early voting, and absentee ballots.

Anderson County mayor—Republican primary

  • Terry Frank—3,896 (53 percent)
  • Zach Bates—3,406 (47 percent)

Anderson County chancellor—Republican primary

  • Nichole “Nicki” Cantrell—3,895 (54 percent)
  • Michael S. Farley—2,979 (41 percent)
  • Phil Harber—368 (5 percent) [Read more…]

Anderson County elects first female chancellor

Anderson County Republican Party Candidates

Nicki Cantrell, second from right, who is running unopposed in the Aug. 7 general election after winning the Republican primary on Tuesday, will become Anderson County’s first female chancellor. Also pictured at right is Michael Farley, one of her two Republican opponents. The three GOP candidates for Juvenile Court judge are also pictured. From left they are Vickie Bannach, Lauren Biloski, and Brian Hunt, the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary.


Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Note: This story was last updated at 4:10 p.m. May 7.

Primary Winners: Frank, Cantrell, Hunt, Lay, Clement

One is Anderson County’s first female mayor. The other will become the county’s first female chancellor.

The two candidates—Terry Frank and Nicki Cantrell—beat their opponents by significant margins in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Both said their victories were based in large part on running positive campaigns.

Cantrell’s victory over Clinton attorney and City Judge Michael Farley, who had the support of many other lawyers, appeared to be the big upset of the night in what had been the most heated race, with the two candidates clashing over their courtroom experience and trading accusations of false claims and “mudslinging.”

Zach Bates

Zach Bates

Both were running to replace the current chancellor, William Lantrip, who is retiring at the end of June after 25 years on the bench. The chancellor hears cases in Chancery Court ranging from divorces and adoptions to lawsuits and contract disputes, but can also sometimes hear Criminal Court cases, sit as the Circuit Court judge, and hear Juvenile Court appeals.

“Nobody believed we could do this,” Cantrell’s husband Dail Cantrell said Tuesday night. “We refused to run a negative campaign and got the support of the people.”

Nicki Cantrell won by about 900 votes, collecting 3,895 votes to Farley’s 2,979, according to unofficial results with all 27 precincts reporting. That’s roughly a 54 percent to 41 percent margin.

A third candidate, Republican Phil Harber, who did not appear to campaign as hard as either Farley or Cantrell, received 368 votes. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Frank says she’s kept her promise; Bates wants to focus on retail, housing

Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Zach Bates

Zach Bates

CLINTON—She says she’s kept her promise to protect Anderson County from higher taxes and worked to make government more efficient while improving customer service.

He says the county needs a more targeted approach to bringing in new retail and rebuilding the housing market.

The two candidates, incumbent Terry Frank and her challenger Zach Bates, face off in the Republican primary in Anderson County on Tuesday.

Frank was first elected in a special election in August 2012. She is the first female mayor of Anderson County and running for her first four-year term. She is completing the unexpired term of former mayor Rex Lynch, who resigned in January 2011.

Bates is a one-term Anderson County Commissioner who is not seeking re-election to that seat. [Read more…]

Meet mayor, sheriff candidates at AARP today


The local AARP chapter has organized an event today that will allow voters to meet candidates for Anderson County mayor and sheriff.

It starts at 1 p.m. at the Oak Ridge Senior Center. Those who attend are encouraged to bring a snack.

Candidates for mayor include the incumbent, Terry Frank, a Republican first elected in August 2012; her GOP opponent, Commissioner Zach Bates; and Democrat Jim Hackworth, a former state representative. [Read more…]

Republican forum: Issues range from jobs, retail to drug courts, trial experience

Anderson County Republican Party Forum

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, center, gives an opening statement during a Tuesday night candidate forum for Republican Party candidates. Also pictured are Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates, left, who is challenging Frank in the May 6 GOP primary, and Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Randy Myers, one of two Republican candidates for sheriff.

Note: This story was last updated at 11:45 a.m.

The starkest differences between any candidates at a Tuesday night Republican Party forum might have emerged in the race for Anderson County chancellor, where candidates Michael Farley and Nicki Cantrell clashed on questions of trial experience and whether the Chancery Court should ever be used to hear criminal cases.

In the race for sheriff, Republican candidates Anthony Lay and Randy Myers agreed on one key question: No federal inmates should be housed at the Anderson County jail.

In the race for mayor, Terry Frank, the incumbent, said she had presided over one of the few—and possibly the only—tax cut in Anderson County history, while her opponent, Commissioner Zach Bates, said the county’s biggest economic challenge is “retail leakage.” [Read more…]