Fiscal court vote on tax position turns ugly


A request by County Judge Executive Larry Russell Bryant to add a full-time position in his office met with opposition during a special fiscal court meeting last week.

Bryant requested that a new position be added that would include the title of occupational tax director but would also allow for extra hours for the person hired to assist with other duties in the office.=

While magistrates appeared to agree that a part-time person would need to be hired to oversee a new occupational tax set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, the majority did not believe a full-time position is necessary.

Bryant said a lot of work will be needed to set up the tax and to reach out to businesses throughout the county that will be responsible for collecting the tax from employees.

Magistrate Chris Reeder said he would like to see the position start at part time and move to full time if needed, but in order to move the issue along, he made a motion to create a full-time position.

“We’ve been beating this thing for eight months, so I’ll make a motion to get her hired, get started and get going,” Reeder said.

The conversation continued for another 30 minutes before a vote was taken.

Magistrate Daryl Flatt said he spoke with city officials about how they set up and collect the tax, and he believes a part-time position is sufficient. He said he would be a slap in the face to taxpayers to use the next tax to add a full-time position.

“Like I said a month ago; we get this money coming in, if it’s in there, we’re going to spend it. That’s exactly what I thought we would be feel like we are doing. We are just creating a position – we’ve got the money. And judge, no offense, but I think there are plenty of people in the judge’s office to take care of what is needed.”

After further discussion, the conversation began to get heated and Bryant said he has hired two attorneys to represent him personally.

“I don’t want to fight with the fiscal court, but I’m tired of being called out, and all the other words that go with it – slander, and intimidated, and threatened.”

Several magistrates spoke over each other in response, with Billy Coffey saying, “That goes both ways.”

“Get your lawyers. That’s what I’m saying. I got two,” Bryant replied. “I want to move on this now. It’s what’s best for this county.”

Reeder repeated his earlier motion and Sammy Baker he has spoken with a lot of people, “and one of the things they want is to see us get along and not take a month or two months to get things worked out.”

Baker continued on and seconded Reeder’s motion. Reeder, Baker and Bryant voted yes while Flatt, Coffey, Tony Denton and Mark Humphress voted no. Terry Hadley was not present. The motion failed.
Bryant responded that he was going to “hand this over to my lawyers and they will be in touch with you for discrimination and slander and all the other things I’ve been putting up with, so get ready for it.”

He went on to blame the court for “the bottleneck” and an argument ensured. Reeder called a motion to adjourn and magistrates exited their chairs.

Also during the meeting, the court approved second reading on reapportionment, which is required following a census. The reapportionment changes some boundaries for magisterial districts and County Clerk Lisa Greer said changes keep the districts within population requirements and develop clearer lines where the districts join. A detailed map will be provided later.

By Sharon Burton

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