County makes budget changes

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 07:46 AM

RUTHERFORDTON — Rutherford County Commissioners approved several amendments to its fiscal year 2013 budget.

Among the amendments approved were changes for the Rutherford County Airport, the Grey Rock development project and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.

However, Commission Chairman Julius Owens added an amendment into the mix that drew some criticism of a fellow commissioner.

Owens asked that Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen receive a 2 percent cost-of-living raise adjustment as well as reimbursement of his moving expenses.

Owens said that county employees received a 2 percent raise at the end of December and that “it was fair” to provide the same to Classen.

However, Commissioner Bo Richard sharply disagreed and, first, stated that Owens could not bring an additional budget amendment to the table because the agenda had already been approved. Owens overruled Richard’s point of order of which Richard quickly appealed. However, the appeal was turned back by a 4-1 vote.

Then, Richard argued that Classen did not need a cost-of-living adjustment, nor did he need is moving expenses reimbursed.

“I think the County Manager had the opportunity to get his moving expenses included in his contract,” Richard said. “We give him more vacation days and pay him more than our previous manager.”

Despite Richards’ argument, commissioners approved the amendment. The moving expenses come to approximately $6,000 and the cost-of-living raise adjustment for Classen amounts to $1,973 over a 12-month period, according to the county Finance Department. His previous annual salary was $98,625. His new annual salary comes to $100,598 per year.

Another amendment stated that the Airport Authority make a current part-time employee full time because of the hours involved and the amount of fuel that is being sold at the airport.

However, Commissioner Bill Eckler asked for that part of the amendment to be tabled but to approve the position pay as a part-time role.

Commissioners approved that augmentation and also approved an additional $8,500 for repairs to the fuel containment and obstacle clearing on the airport grounds.

Another budget amendment regarding the Rutherford County Airport was for $15,400 to bring fiber optic cable to the facility. The plan would use trenching being done by the Broad River Water Authority which is for water line installation, for the fiber cable.

Classen said that if the county were to run the fiber cable above ground, the cost would be approximately $27,000 plus an additional $405 per month for maintenance for each pole the cable is attached to.

He said running the line underground was the most cost-effective for the county.

“That would certainly be the best option available,” Classen said. “From an economic development standpoint, we feel it would be a beneficial option.”

An additional budget amendment in the amount of $44,000 was also approved for the county’s portion of a sewer system study.