By Kendall Patterson
The Chester County Commission and the county residents who attended the commission’s March 14, 2022 meeting discussed the possible ARPA fund projects and their committees, updates on the Solid Waste Fee and plans for the TDEC money that the city and county has available to use.
Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson announced the ARPA committees that were formed from joint projects that evening.
Those committees are as follows.
Library/Carl Perkins: Russell Clayton (Chairman), Barry Smith, Joe Melaro, Andrea Holland, Sandra Highers, Patricia Jones and Savannah Gilbert
Dixie Youth/Childcare: Terry Bell (Chairman), Jerry Emerson, Carolyn Higgins, Todd Lewis, Mike Neisler, Carlos Schmitt and Sylvia Flowers
Agricenter/4-H UT-AG/TCAT: Jackie Butler (Chairman), Ann Moore, Steve Rickman, Neal Smith, John Moore, Rebecca Seratt and Lonzo Taylor
Old Medical Building/Elections: Mike Alexander (Chairman), Jerry Lowe, Kevin Faulkner, Tim Crowe, Steven Morris, Kathy Vest and Bill Moore
Transfer Station/ Recycling Department Holding Area: Andrea Holland (Chairwoman), Jerry Emerson, Ann Moore, Tim Crowe, Amber Greene, Todd Lewis, Kevin Faulkner and Misti Pequignot (Advisor)
Other: Joe Melaro (Chairman), Diane Jordan, Carolyn Higgins, Russell Clayton and Todd Lewis
After the committees were announced and approved, Commissioner Tim Crowe told all the chairman of the committees to give the public plenty of notice when they were to hold a meeting, because he was sure county residents would want to sit in on some of them.
Mayor Hutcherson also mentioned another thought he had for fulfilling the hopes for expansion of the Carl Perkins Center and the library.
He suggested the former Regions Bank building would be a good solution to expansion for the library instead expanding from the current library building in spending $750,000 for the Regions building instead of $1.2 million for expansion of the library. In addition to that idea, Hutcherson said he felt the library building would be a good location for the Carl Perkins Center.
Next in the meeting Chester County Trustee Lance Beshires gave updates on the Solid Waste Fee and the amount of money the fee has produced.
Out of 6,678 fees totaling $560,952, 89% of the fees have been collected accounting for 5,911 fees and $496,524. The other 699 fees not collected totals $58,716.
The beginning balance of fees on tax roll was 6,544 fees for $549,696 but 134 fees (mostly tax-exempt properties) were added. Furthermore, 68 fees of $5,712 in total were deleted due to various situations such as houses being burned, mobile homes being moved and homes being deemed “unlivable.”
Chester County Solid Waste Convenience Center and Recycling Hub Director, Amber Greene told the audience about how a resolution was decided to be formed to clear up some information regarding the fee.
Beshires and Greene had Mike Stooksberry, environmental consultant of county technical assistant services from the state come to help clear concerns regarding apartments, duplexes, etc.
A letter from Greene stated: “The Solid Waste committee and County Technical Assistance Service talked during the meeting about the Solid Waste Fee, they decided a resolution was needed. When the Private Act was approved by commission, the billing was approved by parcel, we now have to have a resolution to include apartments, residential condominium unit, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, and other dwellings, because there are multiple residents on certain parcels… The resolution the Solid Waste committee, County Technical Assistance Service, and Director has recommended before county commission on March 14, 2022 states- The total bill for the Solid Waste Disposal Fee service shall be sent to the property owner as listed on property tax rolls. Apartments, residential condominium unit, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, and other dwellings, with residents will be sent to the property owner on the tax notice. All non-profits, churches, schools, colleges, daycares, recreational entities, or any place that produces trash not on the property tax roll will be sent a bill yearly by the Trustees Office.”
Exemptions to veterans and veterans’ widows was discussed during the meeting as well, but the conclusion was to not take any action regarding exemptions as of now.
“If commissioners decided to exempt the 326 tax relief residents, 35 veterans, nine widows of veterans, 39 disabled residents currently would be $ 27,384 to exempt them.
“After a long discussion, at this time the Solid Waste committee decided to not exempt anyone from the fee because we need time to work though the Solid Waste fee first and make sure everyone is receiving a bill,” the letter stated.
Next Greene discussed how a transfer station at the solid waste department would be beneficial for the county.
She expressed how the transfer station would save on hauling, diesel fuel, and will help residents unload larger items such as furniture. This would also help in providing businesses a method to unload; the solid waste department is currently set up only for household trash as of now.
Jim Garland, the City of Henderson Recorder, and Darryl Green, Henderson Utility Manager then discussed the TDEC money with the audience.
The city has $1.206 million that they will be able to use from the state and the county has $2.795 million they will be able to use.
The county will have to work with the City of Henderson, Adamsville, Jackson Energy Authority and Selmer on any projects, since those are county’s water utility sources.
Garland stated the funds can only be used for improving drinking water and wastewater. The funds cannot be used for storm water or the expansion of water systems.
Garland said the city plans to use all of theirs, but in regards to the county, the city may not be able to afford to spend all of the county’s due to depreciation.
Another concern of Garland’s was the timeline needed for any projects. He said project applications had to be submitted no later than November 1, 2022, under contract by 2024 and completed by 2026. This is a concern due to the current scarce availability of materials and labor.
One more concern was that any projects would first have to meet utility scorecard requirements before they are approved.
In regards to possible projects, Darryl Green emphasized how the state is expecting local governments to address aging water infrastructures with the funds.
Earlier in the meeting, during the second reading of abolishing the constable position, the vote to abolish it was unanimous among the commissioners.
Also, during County General amendments, the amendments for approval were postponed until the next meeting due to questions that could not be answered at the time with the absence of Judy Benard, Chester County director of accounting and budgets and Chester County Sheriff Blair Weaver. Questions were regarding an “Other-Other line item of $30,000 and $40,000 for guards at the Chester County jail.
During other business, Commissioner Barry Smith questioned Mayor Hutcherson on the status of quotes to remodel the old medical building which Hutcherson said he would work on having by the March 14 meeting, but Hutcherson said that contractors currently do not want to give prices until a potential date for the project is set and more specifics about the project are made due to the constant changing of material costs.