Local News

December Revenue Numbers Are Announced

Friday, 9 January 2009

Overall December revenues were $811.0 million, or $83.7 million less than the state budgeted, with sales tax collections for December – reflecting November spending – coming in at a record low rate of negative 10.28 percent.

“December is the fifth consecutive month this fiscal year in which sales taxes and corporate income taxes have recorded negative growth rates,” Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz said. “December also made history – with the largest single negative growth month for sales tax collections on record.”

December is the tenth month in the past year that sales taxes had negative growth rates. Sales taxes comprise more than 60% of the state’s revenue collections.

“In spite of this year’s unprecedented shortfall in tax revenues we will meet our constitutional mandate and end this fiscal year with a balanced budget,” Goetz said.

On an accrual basis, December is the fifth month in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The general fund was under collected by $73.8 million and the four other funds were under collected by $9.9 million.

Sales tax collections were $67.6 million less than the estimate for December. The December growth rate was negative 10.28 percent. For five months revenues are under collected by $212.5 million.

Franchise and excise taxes combined were $1.4 million below the budgeted estimate of $143.9 million. For five months revenues are under collected by $135.7 million.

Gasoline and motor fuel collections for December decreased by 6.81% and they were $6.2 million below the budgeted estimate of $70.4 million. For five months revenues are under collected by $24.7 million.

Tobacco tax collections were $1.9 million above the budgeted estimate of $25.0 million, and for five months they are $2.4 million below the budgeted estimate.

Year-to-date collections for five months were $407.8 million less than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was under collected by $379.4 million and the four other funds were under collected by $28.4 million.

The budgeted revenue estimates for 2008-2009 are based on the State Funding Board’s consensus recommendation adopted by the second session of the 105th General Assembly in May of 2008.

Cannon Circuit Court Activity for Friday, January 9th

Friday, 9 January 2009

Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III presided over Cannon County Circuit Court on Friday. Some of the results from the various cases which appeared on the docket included:

Joseph D. Moore was reset for February 13, 2009.

Amiel Land was reset for March 26, 2009.

Andrew Scott Asbury was reset for February 12, 2009.

Troy Murphy’s application for suspended sentence was granted. He was ordered to serve 90 days in jail with the balance of his sentence spend on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay the court costs.

Haskel Merrit was granted a suspended sentence. He was ordered to serve 90 days in jail with the remainder of his sentence spent on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay the court costs.

Benjamin Sadler’s bond was revoked for failure to report to his probation officer for a pre-sentence report. His suspended sentence was reset for February 13, 2009.

Deborah Waters’ petition for suspended sentence was granted. She was ordered to serve 9 months in jail with the balance of her sentence to be spent on supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay the court costs.

James R. Todd was reset for February 13, 2009.

Nohelia Rodriguez was reset for February 13, 2009.

Bruce A. Morton’s violation of probation was reset for February 13, 2009.

Nathaniel Wanner pled guilty to the charge of violation of probation. His probation was extended and he was ordered to pay the court costs.

William Sullivan pled guilty to the charge of violation of probation. His probation was extended and he was ordered to serve 30 days in jail.

Debbie Isriel was reset for February 13, 2009.

Nathan Barnett’s bond was revoked for failure of a drug screen. His case was reset for January 23, 2009.

Phillip Holt was reset for January 22, 2009.

Ricky Cantrell was reset for May 28, 2009.

Gina Lowe was reset for January 23, 2009.

A Variety Of Topics Addressed By School Board

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Cannon County School Board reviewed a variety of topics for their first meeting of the new year. The meeting at Woodland School covered topics from surplus computers to a new grading system for the high school.

The meeting was opened by an announcement from Board Chairman Gannon. Gannon acknowledged the receipt of a letter confirming former Coach Mike Mayfield’s retirement. Mayfield stated that he will not appeal the previous judge’s ruling in regard to a case between him and the school board. Gannon then read a letter of personal regard and appreciation of the former coach.

A new weighted grading scale for Cannon County High School students was reviewed and approved. This will be done by adding three points to a student’s final semester grad for all honors courses, chemistry, and physics. Also adding 5 points to a student’s final semester grade for all AP and dual enrollment college courses. If a student’s average in class exceeds 100 (for example 100+3 for an honors course) the transcript submitted for a state scholarship would still be a 4.0 This is in accordance with state policy.

A hardship grant was given to a high school student so that the student could leave school after 3rd period to attend his employment. The student meets all requirements set by the board for graduation. Chairman Gannon suggested that the board consider in the future to make a motion that any hardship request could be handled through the central office by Dr. Diden so that private, personal often delicate matters made not be made public knowledge, and that students and families of hardship requests could avoid a public appearance in front of board. Gannon also added that the board would be available to Dr. Diden if he needed assistance in deciding a hardship case.

The board was advised by Brian Cofer that a board has been established to decide who would receive surplus computers. With non-profit groups getting first consideration, anyone who wants to apply for a computer should go to the central office and pick up an application. The computers will be distributed on a first come first serve basis. There are approximately 220 computers that have been determined as surplus.

Jamie Downs appeared before the board requesting funds for choral risers for the high school choir. She informed the board that the choir has grown in 3 years from 12 students to 35 students. After the board received bids from three different vendors ranging from $3,356.00 to $4,459.00. It was decided to wait until the February meeting to make a final decision. This will allow the board time to review all bids and compare quality of risers.

The next school board meeting will be held at West Side Elementary School.

State Budget Cuts Threaten MTSU Radio Station

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Nashville area fans of traditional jazz music may soon find themselves without a radio station. Proposed budget cuts at Middle Tennessee State University are threatening the future of JAZZ-89-WMOT-FM. The campus radio station has been on the air since 1969 at 89-point-five on the FM dial. The nonprofit radio station has seven full-time employees and uses students as part-time air talent. It's part of the MTSU College of Mass Communications. The station gets about two-thirds of its funding from the state. It's slated to receive 534-thousand-dollars from MTSU during the current fiscal year. The school is facing a 19-point-three-million-dollar budget reduction.

State Seeks Relief from 21-Year-Old TennCare Court Order

Thursday, 8 January 2009

State officials are seeking relief from a long-running TennCare lawsuit that prohibits them from reviewing the eligibility of some enrollees and possibly dropping them from the program. The "Daniel" consent decree dates to 1987. It involves people who were originally enrolled in TennCare Medicaid when they became eligible for Supplemental Security Income from the federal government but then no longer qualified for SSI. The court order bars the state from reviewing their eligibility for TennCare benefits and possibly dropping them from the program. The state has already received approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and a federal appeals court to review member eligibility. It's now up to the state court to lift the Daniels order. TennCare officials say this could save the state up to 400-million-dollars annually. TennCare Director Darin Gordon's budget proposal for next year includes cuts of 15-percent. This will mean a dramatic reduction in services for TennCare enrollees.

Gordon Officially Sworn-In to Help Represent Middle Tennessee

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Tuesday, January 6th, Bart Gordon was officially sworn-in to represent the 6th Congressional District of Tennessee in the 111th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I look forward to serving Middle Tennesseans, and continuing my commitment to improving their lives and those of people around the country,” said Congressman Gordon. “America currently faces many challenges, and it is with bipartisan collaboration and the sharing of ideas that we can get to solutions that actually solve problems.”

Gordon, the dean of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, will begin his 13th term in Congress where his ability to work with Republicans and Democrats has allowed him author a number of bills that are now law and rise to Chair the House Committee on Science and Technology.

“When I was elected Chairman in 2007, I set out to make the Science and Technology Committee ‘the committee of good ideas and consensus,’” explained Gordon. “As a result, we passed 45 bipartisan bills, and today, 27 of those bills are public law. I intend to lead the Committee in a similar fashion in this Congress.”

On December 18, 2008, Gordon laid out Science and Technology Committee’s legislative agenda for the 111th Congress. The agenda included measures to make jobs available for America’s future workforce, ensure that the country remains technologically competitive with the rest of the world, and better prepare state and local governments to handle crises like water shortages and droughts.

“One of the most significant accomplishments in the 110th Congress was the passage of the America COMPETES Act,” added Gordon, who worked with Senator Lamar Alexander to author the bill, which was signed into law in August 2007. “This bill will improve math and science education, increase the America’s investment in scientific research, and help our country achieve energy independence. I will see to it that all of the bill’s provisions are fully funded in the 111th Congress.”

Gordon also is a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He has authored bills to improve access and care in emergency rooms, ban the importation of foreign nuclear waste and cut wasteful health care spending. “I am going to work hard to ensure that each of these bills is signed into law this Congress,” Gordon stated. “They are common-sense solutions that have bipartisan support.”

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