Greene County Commission approves $10 million budget; approves $150,000 for purchase of new ambulance

At its regular October meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the Greene County Commission approved a $10 million dollar operating budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.

This budget includes $3.4 million dollar General Fund, which covers most expenses of the county. It also includes a $2.5 million Gasoline Fund and other special funds which support the Highway Department and maintenance of roads and bridges in the county. It also includes funds to satisfy bond issues for the courthouse and jail construction.

The Commission also approved a supplementary budget for additional positions in the Sheriff’s Department including School Resource Officers and additional deputies and jail positions. This budget also includes payment of a vehicle lease for new cars and vans.

Agreements have been worked out between the Commission and the Board of Education for the payment for the resource officers. A separate agreement has been worked out with Sheriff Jonathan Benison for payment
of the other additional personnel and an addition $75,000 a month ($900,000) a year for the Commission in funding from electronic bingo, for the general use of the county and to help with new capital expenditures or matching Federal funds for special projects.

Under these agreements, the Board of Education and Sheriff’s Department must advance three months payment for staffing and the Sheriff must provide the $75,000 payment by the fifth of the month. The Sheriff provided a check for $163,000, which included the $88,000 advance and $75,000 for the month of September, however, the Sheriff still owes the $75,000 for October.

Commissioners Lester Brown and Tennyson Smith pointed out that the Sheriff also has not returned vehicles he promised to return to the county, after the Commission agreed to lease new ones. Brown also said the Sheriff receives funds from the jail telephone and commissary which he does not report or give to the county General Fund. The Commission agreed to write the Sheriff to return the cars by Friday Noon and pay the $75,000 in bingo funds for October.

The County Attorney pointed out that if the Sheriff or the Board of Education does not honor its payments under the agreements that the County Commission will not be obligated to pay the supplementary staff on these budgets.

Macaroy Underwood, County CFO reported that $381,781 in bills had been paid for September and an additional $76,012 in electronic payments had been made. He also asked the Commission to approve two budget amendments for payments made to staff for extra service during the pandemic.

The Commission approved an allocation of $150,000 for a new ambulance for the Greene County EMS, from the county’s $787,0000 allocation from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. This will be a truck mounted ambulance that can be used for wrecks on the Interstate and other tasks in rural areas of the county. The Commission had previously approved $90,000 in ARP funds for an ambulance but this will only support a van type ambulance, which is not suitable for all tasks. The new ambulance will not be available until July 2022, but the Greene County EMS may be able to get a loaner model until the new ambulance is delivered.

In other actions, The Greene County Commission:

• Approved a resolution for Workmen’s Compensation for employees.

• Approved a Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday for February 25-27, 2022.

• Approved advertising for a full-time worker for the Solid Waste Department.

• Approved continuation of the CIMS contract, for computer maintenance; and purchased an ice machine for the Highway Department.

• Approved an incentive payment of $3,000 for full time employees and $1,500 for part time employees of the county, for pandemic service, to be paid out of ARP funds.

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