Holly elected interim assessor

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com

   Gerald Holly, appointed interim property assessor in March, will fill the unexpired term of John Holsclaw, who announced his retirement in February.
   Members of the Carter County Commission voted Monday for Holly to continue in his present capacity until a new election in 2004. Holly was selected from among seven candidates, including: Dan Birkner, Luther Grindstaff, Rick Kyte, Gregory McCracken, Teddy Weaver, and Michael Pritchard.
   After the vote, Holly told commission members that he appreciated their confidence in him. "With your help and through God's help we can make Carter County a better place," he said.
   The commission also approved the appointment of Dr. Jerry Gastineau to the Carter County Board of Health and the appointment of Connie Blevins and Susan Lanier to the Carter County Library Board.
   In other action, commissioners passed a land use study for areas of the county not currently covered by zoning. According to Planning Administrator Chris Schuettler, the land use study will identify exactly what is located on property throughout the county. That type of mapping is helpful when organizations such as volunteer fire departments apply for grants, he said.
   Commissioners also approved new stormwater fees, as well as planning and zoning fees recommended by the county planning commission. The planning and zoning fees would be used to pay for part-time help in the planning office, Schuettler said.
   County Finance Director Jason Cody gave his own version of a "State of the Union" address for the county as this fiscal year winds down.
   "We're going to close out very well. Our revenues are going to run right in line with target; no shortfalls anticipated," he said.
   The only problem so far is in the solid waste department. "We're coming in lower on our revenues there. We think that's tied with the economy," he said. "However, they're running lower expenditures so they'll actually be able to make it up. It will be offset."
   Cody said the county is working on next year's budget with two key assumptions: "One, we're not going to have any more revenue than we're at right now. It's basically flat. Another assumption that we're working with is the current budget proposal with the state -- the governor's proposal of a 9 percent cut in state-shared revenue -- will actually pass.
   "That will impact us about $250,000. What I'm trying to do is work with the different departments to try to fund that $250,000 -- basically work within to try to find our balance," Cody said.
   Cody was given approval Monday by commissioners to refinance the note on Hampton Elementary School. "There's two years outstanding on it -- roughly $1.26 million. Basically, what we're doing is really an interest rate swap -- we're just getting a lower rate. Keeping to the same payment schedule, we're going to save $23,000," he said.
   Commissioners also approved:
   * A motion to name a section of road from U.S. Highway 19E to Hampton High School for Rachel Clawson, a former Hampton High basketball player who was killed last year while working on a highway construction project in the Stoney Creek area.
   * A one-time $1,500 raise for an employee of General Sessions Court Judge John Walton, who had not had a raise in four years; and,
   * $1,200 for travel expenses for the property assessor's office, to cover a discrepancy found in the county audit. This was met with opposition from some commissioners, who requested the matter be deferred to the district attorney's office for investigation.