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Thu, Aug 21, 2014

Commission lines to be redrawn, again

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Some Rutherford County residents will soon find themselves in yet another district as state and county officials tweak district lines to save tax dollars.

Members of the Steering Committee listened Monday as Election Administrator Nicole Lester explained some County Commission district lines will have to be adjusted again despite recent redistricting.

“The reason we’re dealing with this is that the state law will not permit more than one state senator to appear on the ballot in any one precinct,” Lester said. “Wherever a state senate line crosses a County Commission line, that requires us to create a whole additional precinct.”

The state legislature recently redistricted, which is required by federal and state law at least every 10 years after the U.S. Census is taken. Redistricting is required to ensure populations are being represented equally.

State senate lines were drawn in such a way that 19 additional precincts would be created in Rutherford County.

“We’ve had 19 precincts created because the state senate lines did not conform to our County Commission district lines,” she said. “Thirteen of the 19 do have people living there and what’s so frustrating is most of those have less than 100 people living in those areas.”

If district lines are not adjusted to match state senate lines, polling places would have to be opened to accommodate six or 22 people, Lester explained. Opening 13 additional polling places is expected to cost tax payers more than $500,000 over the next 10 years.

“It just doesn’t make much fiscal sense to have to staff an entire polling place and have to have all these extra machines that are leased, extra poll workers and so on for such a low number of voters,” she said.

The Steering Committee voted to recommend changes to some districts in order to prevent the need for additional polling places at the tax payer’s expense. The County Commission will have to approve moving district lines, however the recommended changes include the following:

• Residents living on the south side of Jefferson Pike, west of Highway 231, and bounded by the Stones River who are currently located in District three or 14 will move to District 2.

• Part of District 14 surrounding the Fairmont subdivision near Siegel High School’s soccer field will also move to District 2.

• Individuals residing at Northfield Boulevard and Sulphur Springs Road located in District 14 will join District 15.

• Also moving to District 15 are residents located where Trinity Drive meets Jones Boulevard bounded by West Northfield Boulevard as well as those living at the corner of North Tennessee and Clark boulevards bounded by Lascassas Pike, Leaf Avenue and Sloan Street.

Once adopted, residents will be notified of changes to their district and polling places.

Changes to county employee pay grades
Rutherford County officials are considering a new pay table for determining salary increases for employees.

After conducting an extensive salary survey, Finance Director Lisa Nolen and Human Resources Director Sonya Stephenson have created a new pay table with a formula  they say allows employees to figure out what they should be paid and creates fairness.

Nolen and Stephenson argued their pay table does something that previous pay determinants have not, which is considering the total years of service an employee has provided Rutherford County.

They also argued for expanding the number of steps from 10 to 20 allowing a pay increase every year. Currently, employees are provided raises every other year. Nolen and Stephenson said it is important to employees to get a little something every year.

Employees would receive half of their two-year salary increase annually.

Implementing the plan is expected to cost an additional $1.2 million in salaries and wages over the next three to five years.

“We think there is enough money to fund this without a property tax increase,” Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said.

Nolen and Stephenson merely presented the idea to members of the Steering Committee. No vote was taken.

The plan will be presented at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting Thursday night.
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Commission, Elections, Ernest Burgess, Lisa Nolen, Nicole Lester, Redistricting, Rutherford County, Sonya Stephenson
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