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KCSO pension plan, Knox stormwater council topics

West Knox County homeowners had an opportunity to hear comments from Knox County Fifth District Commissioner Frank Leuthold during a meeting of the Council of West Knox County Homeowners Tuesday, June 5.

Leuthold spoke of the need for residents to have some understanding for the commissioners that were appointed in a last-minute rush during the election last fall.

“All of them attend all the meetings and all of them take the job seriously,” he said. “It’s a learning process for me too. The men and women I served with years ago are gone, so even though I’ve been on the Commission before, I’m dealing with all new people.”

Eight Knox County Commissioners and four constitutional positions required replacements as a result of the state Supreme Court upholding a 1994 Knox County Charter amendment calling for term limits. State law requires Knox County Commission appoint these positions.

Leuthold said at the forefront of the Knox County Commission is the upcoming fiscal year budget.

“In terms of the budget, we haven’t really addressed it yet,” he said. “The Commission decided to have meetings before our regular June meeting to discuss just the budget because it is so large.”

He said a couple of extra items, including the pension plan for Knox County Sheriff’s Officers, added tremendously to the budget. In order to give that to officers and balance the budget, he said the county is looking at pulling $10 million from its fund balances in order to keep the budget balanced.

“The people of Knox County voted for it [pension plan], so we put it in the budget,” he said.

Leuthold said this upcoming fiscal budget would probably rely heavily on fund balances. The reason the county would do that, he said, is to keep the tax rate at $2.69 per $100 of value.

“What the Commission may come up with in the end, I do not know,” he said.

In other business, council president John Schoonmaker told members that he and the other members of the Knox County Stormwater Advisory Board were getting ready to present their recommendations to the county for its development of a stormwater ordinance. As for determining the cost of the ordinance and how to pay for it, that is still up in the air.

“The sad part is that we in the county are going to have to pay for it,” he said. “It’s going to be a very expensive project.”

The stormwater ordinance Knox County plans to adopt is sufficient to meet state minimum requirements, but cost and funding for the measure has yet to be determined, according to Amec unit manager Mary Halley in comments she made made to Knox County commissioners in a special meeting Monday, March 25.

“The regulations prior to what you have here now focused on drainage control,” Halley said. “Largely, storm-water regulations in the past focused on water quantity control, not quality.”

The ordinance Knox County officials are suggesting be adopted, she said, meets requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Program, or NPDES, which is authorized by the Clean Water Act.

Knox County was issued an NPDES permit in 2003, she said. In 2005, Knox County adopted an ordinance similar to the one used by the City of Knoxville.

Halley said Knox County is currently under the jurisdiction of an NPDES Phase II permit, which requires erosion and sediment control during construction and controls for after construction.

“This is a big change,” she said. “You have to prevent or treat water quality after construction.”

This means the county must develop a program to monitor water quality as well as pollutant discharge and private stormwater facility maintenance.

Halley said a program has to be put in place to monitor after construction water quality and report the findings to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Failure to implement such a program could result in daily fines from TDEC of up to $10,000 — possibly paid by taxpayers.

Halley said TDEC has come in to audit the county’s stormwater management program since its implementation in 2003.

“No violations were issued, but they did note some deficiencies,” she said. “They understood this was a difficult thing of the county to implement in such a short time.” The proposed stormwater ordinance considered for adoption, she said, deals with the deficiencies noted by TDEC.


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