HUNTSVILLE — For the first time, Scott County has a policy that will dictate how it handles requests for public records.

By unanimous vote, County Commission adopted a uniform public records policy on Monday that will apply to all county departments, unless any of those departments adopt their own records policy by July 1.

The policy was recommended by the county’s attorney, John Beaty, who said the State of Tennessee is requiring each of its 95 counties to have such a policy in place by July 1.

Beaty presented commissioners Monday with the five-page policy, which he said had been two-to-three weeks in the making, and which was modeled closely after similar policies that have been adopted by other counties.

Under the new policy, Mary Ann Perdue — administrative assistant to County Mayor Dale Perdue — will serve as the county’s public records custodian, meaning all requests for public records will be made to and processed by the mayor’s office, which will direct the requests to the appropriate departments.

Under state law, most written records of any government entity are required to be accessible by the public, meaning that persons can request copies of a wide range of such records, ranging from fiscal budgets to spending reports to meeting minutes to certain personnel records.

The policy adopted by County Commission sets the fee for obtaining public records at 15 cents per page for black and white copies and 50 cents per page for color copies, which Beaty told commissioners is consistent with state law. Additionally, the policy allows for a labor charge of $10 per hour if the time required to process the records request exceeds one hour.

There is no charge for inspecting open records, however, and the policy provides for the records custodian to waive fees if they do not exceed $25, if it is determined that the waiver “is in the best interest of the department and for the public good.”

Perdue said following Monday’s meeting that the public records policy will be accessible on the county’s website,

Fence relocation approved: By unanimous vote, commissioners on Monday approved a proposal allowing the Scott County Homeless Shelter to move a fence at the county-owned facility.

The resolution adopted by County Commission allows the Homeless Shelter to move the fence up to 75 ft. to allow emergency services vehicles better access to the rear of the facility. The resolution stipulated that the work must be completed by the shelter within six months.

The Homeless Shelter occupies the old Capital Hill School near the Annadell community, which is provided by the county on a rent-free basis.

Continuing budget adopted: On a motion by 2nd District County Commissioner Sam Lyles, with a second from 5th District Commissioner Trent Cross, commissioners on Monday approved a continuing budget resolution, which will allow the county to continue operating beyond the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. Continuing budget resolutions are standard when new budgets have not been approved by the start of the new fiscal year, and assume current spending levels and tax rates.

County Commission’s Budget Committee has not yet presented a proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. Director of Finance Ginger Reynolds told commissioners at a work session earlier this month that the school system’s budget is not expected for several weeks.

Odds & Ends: By unanimous vote, commissioners awarded a number of bids as recommended by the Scott County Finance Committee. Among them: A bid for stone purchases was awarded to the Rogers Group, janitorial supplies was awarded to Ellison Supply, liquid asphalt and cold mix were awarded to Hudson, legal advertising was awarded to the Independent Herald and pest control was awarded to Kirkman. The Finance Committee recommended re-evaluating a tire bid and re-bidding a camera system.

The commission also approved a last-minute request from 7th District Volunteer Fire Department for a fundraising road block on Grave Hill Road from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 1. Perdue announced afterward that future road block requests from any department should be received by the county early enough to allow it to go through committee meetings, which are held two weeks prior to the commission meetings.

Likewise approved was a five-year, no-cost contract with the State of Tennessee that will allow the Scott County Clerk's Office to issue driver's license renewals and photo identification renewals, so long as the licenses are non-commercial, non-temporary and non-conditional.

Finally, the commission finalized appointments to the Scott County Solid Waste Board, including Jerry Dodson to represent Winfield, Mitiz Baxter to represent Oneida, Tammie Burchfield to represent Huntsville, and Nancy Chambers, Eddie Pierce, Sam Lyles and Ronnie Phillips to represent Scott County.