Kayla Fleming/For the Times Rep. Kelly Keisling spoke with Macon County Commission at its Oct. 1 meeting.

Kayla Fleming/For the Times

Rep. Kelly Keisling spoke with Macon County Commission at its Oct. 1 meeting.

The Macon County Commission extensively discussed the recent dedication of a portion of Highway 10 with Rep. Kelly Keisling at its meeting on Oct. 1.

Keisling was present at the meeting to speak briefly to the commission about the Tennessee state budget. Keisling told the commission that the "big three" of the state budget went to health and social services, education, and transportation.

Keisling was also questioned by commissioners about the dedication of a portion of Tennessee State Route 10 in Lafayette, which was renamed after former Macon County Mayor Glen Harold Donoho. Commissioner Charles Porter asked how the road could have been dedicated without a proclamation from the commission.

Keisling explained that roads and bridges can be dedicated through a resolution from a city council or county commission, or after being sponsored by both the state representative and state senator for the area. Keisling emphasized that it could be either/or. Keisling stated that he "had just never made it a practice to request a resolution … but if that is the will of this commission moving forward, that is the way it will be."

He acknowledged that Sen. Mark Pody would also have to agree.

Keisling also informed the commission that the state of Tennessee only pays for the dedication of roads and bridges "for those who die in the line of duty, such as military service members or emergency personnel."

Commissioner Jeff Hughes said that he had many citizens approach him to ask why the dedication had been approved.

"I've had a lot of people come to me at ball games, Walmart, all in town asking, 'How did this happen,'" Hughes said. "I don't feel like it's fair. I just don't agree with it.

"Anytime, a resolution needs to start here and then go to the state."

Many commissioners seemed to agree with Hughes.

"To dedicate roads or bridges or anything else in the county, I think the county executive board and the mayor, we should be involved in the whole process of who should be on it and who shouldn't be on it," Commissioner Kenneth Witte said. "We're here. We know who's working the hardest to do what. We should have a say in what's going on. It's our county."

Commissioner Justin Dyer added, "A lot of people don't realize that it can be pushed straight to your level and not come to us, because all of us have been accustomed to passing these resolutions. It just seems like a sly way of going about this."

Porter, Witte, and Dyer all said that they had not been informed of the dedication prior to it, and each of them only found out after the fact.

Porter explained that, in the past, resolutions to dedicate roads or bridges had originated in the commission after being asked to by the family.

"They went over us," Porter said. "We had always sent a resolution in."

Dyer added that, while some have personal concerns over the dedication of the road, his concern was lack of transparency.

"I feel like, the public here in Macon County, if they want to come to those meeting whenever we go to pass those resolutions and proclamations, they have to ability to come to those," Dyer said. "It's announced in both papers. They can get all the information they need. That way we can properly represent our constituents to anything that happens in this county."

The commission passed a resolution stating that any further dedications must come through the commission before proceeding to the state legislature. The resolution failed initially, but after further discussion there was a re-vote, which passed.

Commissioners Scott Gammons, Mike Jenkins, and Mchelle Phillips voted no on the resolution, and Commissioner Phillip Snow was not present. All of the other commissioners voted yes.

Director of Schools Tony Boles informed the commission that a public forum had been held at Red Boiling Springs School on Sept. 27 to discuss and answer questions concerning the possible sales tax increase. The increase, which was approved by the commission in August, will go toward funding a new school in Lafayette.

"We invite the public to come hear outr stance on the sale tax referendum … and what that tax is going for," Boles said.

He added that there had been questions concerning the use of the tax dollars.

"People have asked why the sales tax is for specific building in Lafayette," Boles said. "I keep telling people that's how the referendum was written. The school board had nothing to do with writing that referendum."

Boles said that there have been questions concerning Red Boiling Springs and Westside not benefiting from the increase.

"That's not entirely true," Boles said. "If this sales tax increase is passed and the school-building project is fully-funded by the county commission, that's going to free up the school board to make additions on Red Boiling or make additions or things that need to be done at Westside."

Mayor Steve Jones has formerly stated that the sales tax will not pay for the entirety of the building project. Boles said he had been asked how the rest of the building would be paid for and added that he could not answer that question. He posed the question to the commission. "(Citizens) have said they would feel more comfortable voting for this if they knew where that money was coming from." Jones said. "It has to be sold to people up front that just the sales tax will not build the school. It's got to be a combination of things, nd that's a decision that this legislative body is going to have to make, either to fund it through the property tax or an additional wheel tax."

Jones told the commission that those were generally the only options available to fund the school.

A second public forum will be held at Macon County Junior High on Oct. 17.

The sales-tax increase will be on the November ballot for the county.

Macon County Sherriff Mark Gammons told the commission that he felt a pay increase was needed for Sherriff's deputies due to a recent trend in deputies leaving the department to work for the cities of Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs.

"We certify them, and they leave," Gammons said. "We're going to have to get some pay increase up. These other departments are paying for their insurance. They're paying for their retirement."

He also told the commission that the department has gone through three months being five deputies short, because there was no money in the budget to hire more.

In other business …

• The commission once again voted to send the addition of a speed limit to Storytown Road as well as weight limits on bridges on to the next meeting. The commission also heard a request to implement a speed limit on Powell Road. It was approved for the next meeting as well.

• The commission voted to send a proclamation to name a section of road after Bill Dowell, a former loss control officer for the county, and a proclamation to name a bridge after Woody Dyer on to the upcoming county commission meeting.

• The commission also voted to continue discussion on changing the carpet at the Red Boiling Springs Branch Library.