Huntingdon passes reforms on Use of Force Policy

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Besides adopting the 2020-2021 budget and tax rate, and an ordinance that raises water and sewer rates, Huntingdon’s Town Council passed an amendment to the Police Department Policy concerning reforms at the Aug. 25 meeting.

Mayor Dale Kelley noted that due to recent events in the national news, there has been a nation-wide push for police reform.

“This reform includes greater accountability, use of force examination, and the need for duty to intervene,” said the mayor.

On July 2, Gov. Bill Lee, announced a partnership with the various law enforcement entities of the state to establish a policy that will include those reform issues.

“While we feel that our local police department has maintained good relations with our public, we also know that we must adopt standards that will keep us current with the times,” said Kelley.

National standards have been set to the issues in question. The state model of standards exceeds the national standards, and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police (TACP) model exceeds the state standards.

“We have also added parts of our past policy to broaden our Use of Force Policy even beyond that of the TACP model,” said the mayor. “The time and effort being put into these changes have been tremendous, but it will posture us for improvement, for both the present and into future. The mission of the Huntingdon Police Department has not changed which is to provide police protection equally to all people and to be the role model for other agencies to follow. We look forward to building upon our good relationships with our public.”

The 2020-2021 budget of $5,053,250 will have a property tax rate of $1.2487 per $100 of assessed property. The tax rate is not a raise in property tax from last year but is lower because the county’s property was reassessed.

The total expenses in the General Fund are $4,803,250 with an additional $250,000 transferred out for the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Special Project. The estimated expenses over revenues were $106,850, but an SRTS grant match of $109,800 paid from the prior reserve, makes revenues over expenses in the amount of $2,950.

No one spoke at public hearing on the budget.

The town has several projects planned for the coming fiscal year for economic growth and development.

 Water and sewer rates will now increase in the Town of Huntingdon after the second reading of the ordinance during the meeting. The 2.9 percent increase is due to the annual automatic cost of living adjustment. In 2018 council members passed an ordinance to that effect.

Council members agreed to an addendum to the Production Company Services Agreement with Planning Stages, Inc. of Nashville. The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center had signed an agreement with Planning Stages to plan the booking of events. The agreement signed on March 11 of this year will be suspended due to the impact of the coronavirus. Once it is decided to reinstate this agreement, it will go into effect on a predetermined date and will extend beyond the original termination date of March 10, 2021 for the number of months it was suspended.

An agreement was entered into with J. R. Wauford & Co. for engineering services related to the development of a corrective action plan for the Highway 22 sewage treatment lagoon as required by the Dept. of Environment and Conservation Director’s Order No. WPC20-0062.

The state Dept. of Environment and Conservation fined the town $64,100 for a violation that related to too much chlorine entering into the waste water stream, according to Public Works Director Randy Crossett. There were 30 violations over the last year.

“Ten percent of the fine, $6,410, had to be paid up front,” said Crossett. “If we follow up (with a solution), the town won’t have to pay any more of the fine.”

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