Duties of the Trustee

as defined by the state of Tennessee

Deputies and Assistants. The trustee may receive authority to employ deputies and
assistants through a letter of agreement or court order as explained earlier in this
chapter. If the trustee decides to petition for additional deputies or assistants or
additional salary amounts, the petition is filed in the chancery court and the county
mayor defends the salary suit. T.C.A. § 8-20-101.

Duties. The trustee serves three primary functions: (1) collecting all county property
taxes; (2) keeping a fair regular account of all money received; and (3) investing
temporarily idle county funds. T.C.A. § 8-11-104. In addition, the trustee disburses
sales tax revenues and may collect municipal property taxes and other state and local
taxes. The trustee generally acts as treasurer for the county, receiving and paying out
funds. The trustee must keep a detailed account of these transactions. The trustee
receives funds for the county from various sources, including the fees of the county
“fee” officials. The trustee has an important role in the disbursement of county funds
that varies in detail from county to county depending upon whether the warrant or the
optional check system is used in the particular county. T.C.A. § 5-8-210. At least once
every four years and not less than once every term of office, the trustee is required to
evaluate whether the contract for the county’s bank account(s) should be rebid. T.C.A.
§ 5-8-201. The trustee is to obtain proposals from at least two banks or other financial
institutions, prepare a written evaluation of the proposals, and preserve the evaluations
for at least three years. Prior to investing county funds, the trustee is required to obtain
and document at least two proposals from banks or other financial institutions to assure
the county receives the highest and best rate of return, and this documentation must be
retained in the trustee’s office for at least three years. T.C.A. § 5-8-301. The trustee
appoints the delinquent tax attorney subject to the approval of the county mayor. T.C.A.
§ 67-5-2404. The duties of the trustee regarding the collection of property taxes are
described in the County Property Tax Manual, a CTAS publication that may be found on
the CTAS Web site at www.ctas.utk.edu. Also at the CTAS Web site is Legal Issues for
County Trustees, another publication that describes the duties of the trustee in greater

Relationship to County Legislative Body and Other Officials. The trustee must interact
with the county mayor and/or a finance/budget director as well as the county legislative
body regarding the trustee’s budget and budget amendments. The exact procedures
vary from county to county depending upon whether the county operates under a
charter or optional general law regarding budgeting, or has a private act dealing with
this subject. However, all trustees must submit budget requests in a timely manner in
the first half of each calendar year for inclusion into the county’s annual budget. Most
counties have budget committees that may recommend appropriations for the trustee’s
36 budget that differ from those submitted by the trustee. The county legislative body
determines the amount of the trustee’s budget, subject to certain restrictions, such as
following the requirements of any court order regarding a salary suit for deputies or
assistants. In many counties, depending upon the applicable law, the county mayor has
the authority to approve line item amendments to the trustee’s budget within major
categories not affecting personnel, whereas major category amendments require the
approval of the county legislative body. T.C.A. § 5-9-407.

The trustee also interacts with the county mayor in the selection each year of the
delinquent tax attorney. The selection of the delinquent tax attorney by the trustee is
subject to the approval of the county mayor. T.C.A. § 67-5-2404. The trustee interacts
with the delinquent tax attorney preparing the delinquent tax lists and giving proper
notice during the collection process. The trustee works with the clerk and master as well
as the delinquent tax attorney regarding funds collected in delinquent tax suits.
The trustee interacts regularly with all the “fee” officials as each fee official either turns
over all fees collected monthly or turns over “excess” fees quarterly. When under the
“fee” system as opposed to the “budget” system, the trustee must keep an account of
the “excess” fees deposited and any “advances” that may be made from the general
fund to the fee official at the beginning of a term. The trustee interacts with other
officials or department heads of the county that receive monies in the course of their
activities that must be deposited in a county fund, whereupon the trustee keeps an
accurate record of these transactions.

Vacancies. If there is a vacancy in the office of trustee, the chief deputy or another
deputy designated in writing by the trustee temporarily carries out the trustee’s duties
until a replacement is chosen by the county legislative body. T.C.A. §§ 8-11-111, 5-1-