Information from WYSH Radio
The Anderson County Commission met for the first time since January on Monday night and voted unanimously to release the $20,000 in funding that had been held back from the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department and place them back in the rotation (beginning next year) for county purchase of a new fire truck after the department abandoned its controversial and wildly unpopular subscription program and returned to all-volunteer status.
Commissioner Phil Warfield said that the department “went above and beyond what Commission asked of them” as far as making things right with county leaders and more importantly the citizens they serve.
Commissioners were also introduced to the new fire chief, Del Kennedy.
Commissioners also voted to authorize Law Director Jay Yeager to file a public nuisance lawsuit against a resident of Foust Carney Lane in Claxton over the 75-plus chickens and roosters he keeps in his yard, which is in a subdivision. Neighbors say that the odor—especially in the summer—and noise from roosters who crow at all times of the day are a nuisance, with one neighbor saying that, at times, they feel like “prisoners” in their homes. Neighbors also contend that the chickens themselves are being kept in less than ideal conditions.
Yeager also cited concerns over the potential contamination of nearby waterways from chicken feces run-off during rainy periods. Yeager recommended that the county begin the process of drawing up ordinances dealing with poultry in residential areas.
In other business, the Commission also voted to set aside money from capital outlay funds for the possible construction of a temporary animal shelter ($25,000) to alleviate some of the county’s animal control problems and money ($34,000) for the possible purchase of land behind the Claxton convenience center to relocate the current facility, which is small and has limited access. In both instances, that money was not allocated but rather set aside for possible use in the future.
Commissioners also voted to allocate $20,000 for the care of animals picked up by Animal Control officers. Currently, the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter is overcrowded and not able to accept animals collected in the county. Instead, the county is in many cases sending animals to the Roane County shelter, and the bills for that have already topped $16,000 for the first quarter of 2015.
Commissioners voted to overturn Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank’s veto of a resolution that prohibits her, or anyone else, from firing a department head or abolishing a department of the county government established by the Commission.
One item that no action was taken on, but will certainly be revisited in the future, was a request from Trustee Rodney Archer to establish a maximum percentage that could be paid in the event the county has to retain a delinquent tax attorney. The state allows a maximum of 10 percent of the base taxes owed on a delinquent property to be paid to an attorney hired to handle those cases, and Archer sought that maximum amount in order to negotiate a deal. Archer said that whether or not an attorney is retained by then, he is required by state law to file a delinquent tax lawsuit by April 1.
At issue is Frank’s refusal to sign off on Archer’s recommendation that Law Director Jay Yeager be used as the delinquent tax attorney as he has since the creation of his office in 2006. Frank relieved Yeager of those duties late last year as part of their long-running dispute. By law, Archer is required to appoint someone to serve in that capacity, and he appointed Yeager, but Frank has not backed off her position.
Archer and others reached a compromise that will allow him to choose the attorney and negotiate the best deal for the county with regards to their payment.
Commissioner Steve Mead said Monday night that it is his understanding that in the event that the trustee and mayor cannot agree on an individual to serve in that role, state law dictates that the district attorney appoint someone as delinquent tax attorney.
Some commissioners expressed their concern that in the event an outside attorney is retained, the money from the collection of back taxes would not flow back into county coffers, but would instead go to lawyers. Archer said he can pay for an outside attorney in that role through the end of June with “excess” money in his budget but will not be able to do so once the new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Commissioners voted to table the question until next month despite Archer’s objections, and a vote to rescind that delay failed, meaning that he will not be able to negotiate with any outside legal counsel. This issue will certainly be revisited over the next few months as the saga of the law director/mayor conflict continues to play out.
We will have more on last night’s Commission meeting, including a ruling handed down last week concerning the controversial propane gas contract with Blossman Propane that was canceled last year after questions arose about the process used to award that deal.
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