Required 5% Contingency Fund

Under the charter, each department must maintain a contingency fund. A contingency fund of, at minimum, five percent (5%) of the total budget must be maintained. In a time of emergencies, each department, as well as the county general fund, should have ample money to deal with emergency situations when they arise.

Found at:

Section 11.02. Budget Plans and General Financial
A total budget contingency fund shall be maintained at five percent (5%) of the county budget.

Section 11.06. Budget Review Process
The budget committee is responsible for reconciling the proposed budgets of the individual offices, departments, schools, and other entities that receive funds from Lincoln County with the revenue projections of the County Financial Director to create a proposed annual budget which does not exceed the fiscal year’s revenue projection, while maintaining a minimum five percent (5%) contingency fund.

Mayor and Financial Director TWO separate positions

It was recently brought to the attention of the Charter Commission during a meeting that there is some confusion as to how the proposed charter handles the relationship of County Mayor to the position of County Financial Director.

Despite some misinformation going around, the Charter does not combine the two roles.

Rather, the two positions will continue to be separate under the Charter, and the two will continue to operate closely together on county budgeting and financial issues.

The Charter seeks to put down into words the specifics of the budgeting process and provide a blueprint to which both citizens and those within the county government can look to for guidance. Please see below for more details.

Section 3.03. County Mayor Duties

XI. FINANCIAL CONTROLS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Section 11.05. Zero (0) Based Budgeting

    A.  Each Fiscal Year, the head of each county department, all elected county officials, clerks of courts as well as any other entity requesting money from citizens of Lincoln County and all other county entities or organizations for which the Lincoln County Government is ultimately responsible for their debts, in consultation with The County Mayor (Section 11.04.) and County Financial Director, shall prepare and submit a zero (0) based budget to the County Commission and its committee(s) responsible for reviewing the budget.

Section 11.06. Budget Review Process

    C.  The budget committee is responsible for reconciling the proposed budgets of the individual offices, departments, schools, and other entities that receive funds from Lincoln County with the revenue projections of the County Financial Director to create a proposed annual budget which does not exceed the fiscal year’s revenue projection, while maintaining a minimum five percent (5%) contingency fund.

Section 2.11. Meetings and Quorum

    E.  All notifications of committee meetings and all minutes of committee meetings will be filed with the County Clerk’s office. The Clerk will promptly transmit a copy to the County Mayor and to the Financial Director. The Clerk will notify all commissioners by mail of said notifications and minutes of meetings at least five (5) days prior to the meeting. It shall be the duty of the County Clerk’s office to maintain all Commission and committee meeting minutes in such a manner that the records shall at all times, during normal business hours, be open for public inspection.

Binding Referendums on County Government

Lincoln County Home Rule Charter provides an opportunity for county citizens to have their voice heard by having county referendums pursuant to Tenn Code Ann 2-5-151.
This is a very important feature of the Lincoln County Home Rule Charter allowing any registered voter in Lincoln County to start the petition process described below:

2-5-151. Petitions for recall, referendum or initiative.
Any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section. Before a petition may be circulated, at least one (1) registered voter of the city or county shall file with the county election commission:

(1) The proper form of the petition; and

(2) The text of the question posed in the petition.
This allows the citizens of Lincoln County to have the right to redress any action by the Lincoln County Government. Under the current county government the redress of county government is very limited. The charter requires that a petition to be approved and be put on the next general election ballot for a referendum have signatures of county register voters equal to 7% of the voters in Lincoln County who voted in the last gubernatorial election in Lincoln County (approximately 650.) The referendum will be binding on the Lincoln County Government. The Lincoln County Home Rule Charter does not allow for special elections and has a requirement that if any petition has been certified, if the petition addresses a past action of the Lincoln County Government, per section 9.15 of the Home Rule Charter, (the measure that is the subject of the referendum shall be rendered not in effect, there will be a stoppage of work or activity and all funding to the measure suspended, pending the outcome of the referendum.)

Found at Section 9.14. Petitions for Recall, Referendum, and Initiative to be Applicable.

Advance Availability of Meeting Materials

Currently this information is not available to the citizens.

The Home Rule Charter requires that this information be posted on the Lincoln County Website or be available in the County Clerk’s office three (3) days before a county commission meeting.

Found at Section 2.11.B. Meetings and Quorum.

Stated Debt Management Policy for Citizen Protection

Lincoln County Home Rule Charter includes well defined debt management requirements including a current Outstanding Debt Report reflecting total outstanding indebtedness of Lincoln County to better protect the citizen of Lincoln County.

The total indebtedness of Lincoln County is not easily ascertained. Different county officials cite different amounts. The Home Rule Charter has stated rules to be followed in incurring or refinancing county indebtedness.

Found at Section 11.09. Debt Management.

Multi-Year County Operating Budgets

Currently, there is only one year planned and budgeted and the budget is being revised during the year. The budget planned by each department and approved by the County Commission. For better planning the Charter requires three (3) years be budgeted.

Found at Section 11.02.A Budget Plans and General Financial.

The next fiscal year under consideration and two years out from that. Also the Home Rule Charter requires a 5% contingency fund (rainy day fund) be maintained. This should facilitate better planning of our County Government.

Found at Section 11.02.D. Budget Plans and General Financial.

Multi-Year County Capital Improvements Budgets

The current county budgeting does not plan for or set monies aside for major building maintenance, planned new equipment or replacement equipment. Those costs do not occur every budget year but will occur at some points in the future.

Therefore, to better plan for the future the Charter requires, the Lincoln County Government to reserve an amount each year in its Capital Improvement Plan and Budget equal to the total of the annual reserves of the items in the Capital Improvement Plan and Budget (CIPB).

Found at Section 11.08 Capital Improvement Plan and Budget.

Requirements for Purchases of Land, Buildings or New Construction

Section 9.16. Real Property Acquisition Requirements

This requires that proper planning and due diligence be done before county taxpayer dollars are appropriated. Before real property can be acquired by the Lincoln County Government, the following due diligence must be performed by the County Mayor. Real property is defined to mean land and buildings, this also applies to new construction or additions.

1. A Requirements Document must be written and contain at a minimum, an in-depth detail description of what is proposed to be acquired; the reasons for requesting the acquisition; a description of the acquisition’s benefit(s) to the citizens of Lincoln County; the projected cost of the project—to include any site preparation work, utility costs, sewers, remodeling, etc.; its impact on the operating budget in cost of additional staff, furnishings, maintenance, utilities, insurance, etc.; and the proposed financing method, costs to finance, and interest cost. The requirements must be written in such a manner that would create the most sources to meet the acquisition needs, a sole source justification on why the requirements were written, that limited competition, will be included in the requirements documents.

2. A Risk Assessment report detailing all associated risk and a risk mitigation plan must be written.

3. After the Requirements Document and Risk Assessment report have been prepared with the required information, the County Mayor will make a presentation to the Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners of the Requirements Document, Risk Assessment, and supporting data. The Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners may request more information or may approve the documents by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the commissioners to schedule a public hearing to present the acquisition plan to the citizens of Lincoln County or may vote to not proceed with the acquisition. The Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners will not vote on the acquisition until a meeting after the public hearing and actual contractual costs have been established, the vote will require a two-thirds (2/3) majority for approval. If the real property acquisition requirements are not strictly followed, acquisition of said property acquired will be voided, all monies will be refunded to the Lincoln County Government, and title shall pass back to the previous owner.

Found at Section 9.16. Real Property Acquisition Requirements.

Adopts TN Strict Conflict of Interest Rule

The director, purchasing agent, members of the committee, members of the county legislative body, or other officials, employees, or members of the board of education or highway commission shall not have any financial interest or have any personal beneficial interest, either directly or indirectly, in the purchase of any supplies, materials, equipment or contractual services for the county.

Found at Section 12.03. Conflict of Interest.

Voter Approval for New Or Increased Taxes

This is a requirement of the Home Rule Charter that any new taxes or any tax increases will be approved by the voters of Lincoln County by referendum.

The normal election cycles in Lincoln County are every two years, therefore, a referendum could be placed on the ballot every two years.

Also the Home Rule Charter does not allow for special elections to be held.

Found at Section 11.03.A.

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