MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Rutherford County Budget Committee approved an agreement Thursday to allow the county to determine the processes needed to continue the use of electronic benefits transfer cards at local farmers market.
The agreement for benefit redemption, made with FIS Government Solutions, will allow the county to work out the payment and reimbursement processes that will allow citizens receiving benefits to purchase healthy, local food.
“It’s a good idea (for) people using those cards to be able to buy healthy food, instead of at the grocery store buying junk food with them,” Commissioner Will Jordan said during the regularly scheduled meeting held at the Rutherford County Courthouse.
He added that it would also be beneficial for the local farmers before making a motion for approval.
Although EBT cards are already allowed for purchases at the market, their use was previously funded by a grant through Middle Tennessee State University.
“This process was funded by a grant through MTSU, and the grant ended. To be able to keep that up, they’re asking the county to kind of take over this process now,” said Lisa Nolan, finance director for the Rutherford County government.
An operating transfer for $350,000 to cover the cost of microwave communications equipment already purchased from Motorola was also approved. Although the equipment costs were supposed to be funded through a federal communications grant, the grant money was delayed due to the federal government shutdown.
The expenditure was made and the reimbursement requested prior to the federal government shutdown on Oct. 1, and it had still been listed as pending at that time, Nolan said.
Once the shutdown is over, federal agencies will continue to issue reimbursements, and the money will be repaid, she added.
Nolan explained to the committee how the federal government shutdown affects the services and budgets of the county government agencies through the delay of expected grant money.
“The monies that we receive in grants are being held,” Nolan said, “but that’s not all of it. Some of our federal money comes through the state and then to us.”
“We’ve got some positions that are funded by grants, and they’re just being delayed, but we do have funds to pay these positions. Eventually, once everything gets started back up, then (the feds will) pay us,” Nolan added.
Commissioner Doug Shafer made a motion to approve the funds transfer, which was seconded by Jordan.
“We just need to learn from this, and watch everything, because we signed a contract, entered into an agreement (and) we’ve got to pay our bills,” Jordan said.
The committee also approved a site lease agreement with Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, which will allow the county to use its tower site in Smyrna at a cost of $2,200 a year as a location for some of the newly purchased Motorola equipment.
Additionally, requested budget amendments for the ambulance service, county general, highway and special purpose funds were all approved by the Budget Committee.
An increase in driving under the influence offender fees from $30 a day to $44, which will be effective in January 2014 if approved by the full County Commission, was also approved.
The benefits redemption agreement, site lease agreement, budget amendments and increase to DUI offender fees will be voted on at the next County Commission meeting, slated for Thursday, Oct. 17, in downtown Murfreesboro.