During a meeting on Sept. 14, the Jackson County Commission approved various annual contracts and discussed various cost saving measures.
Ryan Putman spoke as a representative of the High Jackson Lodge 35 of the Fraternal Order of Police — Putman is a detective with the Scottsboro Police Department. Putman began by commending the county on their recent vote to increase the salary of the deputies at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in the County’s next year budget.
"That raise was much needed, and a positive step for these employees." said Putman. "We the Jackson County High FOP offer our sincere thanks and gratitude for the commission’s earnest efforts to see this legislation passed."
Putnam then mentioned staffing issues at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. He noted that the department has roughly one deputy per 1,000 citizens in the Jackson County, and stated that this was drastically higher ratio than the national average of one deputy for every 333 citizens.
The commission approved the hiring of a temporary bus driver for the council on aging and four temporary workers in the Public Works Department. The driver will be hired for a term of six months.
A contract with Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare was approved by the county, as well as a contract between COA and the Jackson County Nutritional Program.
Lyle Sosby was appointed to the Mountain Lakes Tourism Board.
A motion to approve the hiring of a clerk into a vacant position in the Commission Office. Commissioner Mike Sisk, District 4, opposed the motion, as he suggested that an employee could potentially be hired in a different department.
County Commissioner Tim Guffey noted that this position was already allocated and would not be able to be changed.
Ultimately, the hiring was approved by the Commission, with Sisk voting against the measure. Guffey as well as Danny Rich, District 1, and Jason Venable, District 2, voted in favor of accepting the hiring committee’s recommendation. Sisk voted against. Melinda Gilbert who represents District 3 was not present at the meeting and therefore did not vote.
A potential contract buyout of county employees to encourage those who have reached their retirement obligation was discussed. This would allow the County to make room at the top of the pay scale and be able to hire employees at a lower pay to do similar jobs.
The commission decided more information was needed to make any decision regarding a potential buyout, so the measure was tabled for a future meeting. The Commission believed there are roughly 18 employees who would be eligible.
A measure for County to vacate County Road 675, which is roughly a quarter mile long. The individual making the request, Harry Bledsoe, owns property on all three sides of the road. According to Bledsoe the road does not provide any kind of logging access, cemeteries or other public land.
A second set of annual bids were discussed during the work session. These bids were more complicated than others examined during the meeting as there was not a clear lowest bid due to the nature of the materials and work.
The Commission also discussed the possibility of adopting payroll tax deferral that President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Aug. 8. Issues regarding the county’s liability in relation to the deferred tax collected made commissioners wary of approval the deferral for the county government.
The program would allow the County to defer collecting Social Security Payroll taxes. It was mentioned during the meeting that the program is a deferral not a forgiveness program, and that if the county opted into the program, they would eventually have to collect the deferred payroll tax as it would be due to the federal government in April 2021.
The commission’s next meeting will be on Monday Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m.